Craigan looks to youngsters
Stephen Craigan is hoping the younger Northern Ireland players can make an impact against Turkey.
Last Updated: 25/05/10 5:18pm
Northern Ireland captain Stephen Craigan is hoping the younger players in the squad can make an impact against Turkey on Wednesday.
Nigel Worthington's men will play the international friendly in Connecticut before facing World Cup-bound Chile in Chillan on Sunday night.
Craigan has been awarded the armband for the two-game, end-of-season tour in the absence of regular captain Aaron Hughes and vice-captain Maik Taylor.
And the 33-year-old Motherwell skipper, who will earn his 47th cap against Turkey, is calling on the less experienced players in the line-up to prove their worth to manager Worthington and assistant Glynn Snodin.
"We have a young squad, very inexperienced, and the weather's going to be tough but this is an opportunity for some guys to put a marker down and give a measure to show Nigel and Glynn that they can be a part of the squad more often," said Craigan.
Craigan insists the tour is crucial to the development of the squad and an ideal chance for younger players to establish themselves on the international stage.
"Some people have been critical of the tour and had a pop at it but once you get away and get training among the boys and spirits are good it's always nice to come away and play against teams you'll probably never get a chance to play again," he said.
"We need a turnover of players, we haven't got the biggest squad of players so it's important to dip into the pool of 18-19 year olds and see where they are.
"This is a chance to see their appetite up close, see what they're all about, so this is an important stage.
"The most important thing is that we can get players through for the next (European Championship) campaign and for the next World Cup as well."
Northern Ireland will take on a Turkey side that saw off the Czech Republic 2-1 on Saturday in New Jersey, and Craigan is expecting a challenging encounter.
"It is going to be tough for us in the heat and we will probably spend long periods without the ball," he added.
"That's when it's important we keep our shape, stay organised and try and tell our minds we're not tired.
"The Turks are a good side but it's exciting playing against good countries like this and seeing if you can add a little bit extra to your game. It can give you a little bit of hope for the future."