Worthington can't find Ferguson

BY foxsports • October 6, 2011

Following Jonny Evans' withdrawal through injury, Worthington attempted to add the highly-rated 20-year-old to his squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Estonia on Friday and Italy on Tuesday but, not for the first time, he has found the left-back difficult to get hold of. Worthington revealed in May that he had drawn a blank when trying to speak to the player, sparking worries that he was ready to join the ranks of youngsters switching to the Republic of Ireland after playing at youth level for Northern Ireland. He is not tied to the country of his birth despite playing for the senior side in a friendly against Italy two years ago, but would be if he appeared in a competitive fixture. The question of allegiance was apparently put to bed when Ferguson accepted a call to play for Steve Beaglehole's Under-21 side again last month, but the latest non-appearance has clearly frustrated Worthington. "I've been trying for the last 36-48 hours to get in contact with the boy to let him know I'd like to draft him into the squad," said the manager. "His club has been notified and we've had the medical records sent back to us, as we always do with players to see if there are any problems, but we've had no contact. "It beggars belief when you read in the press that people want to represent their country and when you give them the opportunity to do so there's no willingness, or manners, to say 'no I don't want to be involved' or 'Yes, I'm coming'. "I can only do what I've done. People at the Irish Football Association have done what they do and we can't do any more. "We can't put hands on and literally drag people in." There have been suggestions that a personal issue between player and manager is a more likely explanation for Ferguson's apparent reticence to join the senior squad. Worthington appeared to hint that the pair have not always enjoyed a harmonious relationship, despite their limited acquaintance, but insisted the honour of wearing the Northern Ireland shirt should be enough to over-ride any other issues. "The only time I've seen Shane is at Milk Cups and sometimes you make young people aware of things that would make them a better player," he said. "Whether that's upset him in some way or another I don't know. If he wants to be involved, great. If he wants to go somewhere else, that's his decision. If I'm not here (at the end of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign) and he wants to come in after that, that's up to him. "But certainly, when I was a young man, if you were selected for your country you were on the first plane over." Indeed, Worthington's own Northern Ireland future is no more certain than Ferguson's. His contract expires at the end of the year, meaning tomorrow's rematch against an Estonia side who all but ended his side's play-off hopes could be his last at Windsor Park. At least some of the home fans are expected to make it an uncomfortable experience for him following some negative chants during the 4-1 defeat in Tallinn, but Worthington defends their right to an opinion. "Frustration is understandable," he said. "They spent their money and took time off work to support the team, so you're as disappointed for them as you are yourself. "But I didn't say anything (after the Estonia match). It wasn't the right time or the right place. Whatever they say isn't printed and what I do is." One negative reaction he did not welcome was that of predecessor Lawrie Sanchez, who launched a scathing attack on Worthington's reign and suggested he would like to return to the post he left in 2007. Worthington was restrained in his response, adding: "My hand-on-heart reaction to that was one of bemusement. Other people did the talking for me, I didn't need to say anything because I wanted to keep my professionalism intact. "Sometimes minorities get the headlines and that's life, you deal with it."

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