Trio to continue with NI
Nigel Worthington has secured the international futures of Aaron Hughes, Maik Taylor and Stephen Craigan.
Last Updated: 13/10/09 4:55pm
Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington has secured the international futures of Aaron Hughes, Maik Taylor and Stephen Craigan.
The former Norwich boss held brief talks with the trio during which they all pledged to continue to represent their country beyond the current World Cup qualifying campaign.
Captain Hughes, goalkeeper Taylor and defender Craigan have been key members of Worthington's squad throughout the Group 3 campaign, with their final fixture coming on Wednesday night away to Czech Republic.
Northern Ireland's chances of making the play-offs are all but over as Slovenia only need a point against San Marino to finally dash their hopes, but the trio's enthusiasm to continue remains.
Worthington said: "I went to them to see what their feelings were, what they felt in themselves, and to be honest I don't think I had the question fully out before the answer came back.
"All three would like to continue. Each of them said, 'If you want me, I'm available'.
"With regards what happens to me in the next couple of months, that's fantastic news for the football association and for the international squad as a whole.
"To have those professional people in and around is a must for our squad.
"I am excited about the future as long as we have got the elder statesmen here. We need them to be the rudder on the boat. They are a huge link between the manager and the group and set the standards."
With his two-year contract about to expire Worthington is due to hold talks at the end of the campaign with the Irish Football Association about a possible new deal.
He is relaxed about his situation and said: "I agreed with the president (Raymond Kennedy) and chief executive (Patrick Nelson) three months ago that there would be no distractions, no excuses.
"It is all about the players, the performances and results first and foremost.
"The president has been first class in leaving it that way so we've got the last game tomorrow night and then we'll go from there."