Saturday 10 December 2016

Worthington extends olive branch with offer of inside line on Estonia

Published 14/10/2011 | 05:00

NIGEL WORTHINGTON has urged Giovanni Trapattoni to give him a call if he wants further advice on the Estonian side that proved a thorn in the side of Northern Ireland's Euro 2012 ambitions.

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Estonia scored back-to-back wins over the North, with a 4-1 thrashing in Tallinn followed by a 2-1 win in Belfast last week, which spelled the end for Worthington's tenure in charge of his country.

The 49-year-old believes the Republic of Ireland are capable of overcoming the Baltic nation to make next summer's finals, but anticipates that it will be a close-run thing and refutes any suggestion that Estonia are the weakest side left in the competition.

Relations between the FAI and the IFA have been strained in the past year due to the issue of player defections from north to south.

However, Worthington was humbled by the reception he received from Trapattoni around the Carling Nations Cup meeting in May, and says he would be willing to help if someone from the FAI got on the phone.

"If anyone from the FAI or the staff came to me, then of course I would help them in any way," said Worthington.

Courteous

"Mr Trapattoni was very courteous to me both before and after our Carling Nations Cup game and I really appreciated that.

"When someone of his magnitude in football can show respect like that, it shows the rest of us how it should be done."

If Worthington does speak to Trapattoni, then he will be making particular reference to the strength of the Estonian midfield department.

He accepts that Ireland are favourites, yet he knows from personal experience that the outsiders are capable of causing trouble.

"The Republic of Ireland have a lot of good players, but they are going to need to be on their toes against Estonia," said Worthington.

"They are very well organised, their midfield is extremely strong and they are well drilled at the back and don't give a lot away."

So, while he is leaning towards a victory for Trapattoni's men, he refuses to rule out the possibility of an upset.

"If I was to predict a winner right now, I would go for the Republic edging a win over two games," he said.

"Estonia are probably seen as the weakest side left, but they are far from that. If there was to be another 'shock' I would not be surprised."

Irish Independent

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