McCartney eyes crucial qualifiers

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Sunderland defender George McCartney believes Northern Ireland are already facing a crucial phase in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The province have taken one point from two games going into the back-to-back matches against Slovenia on Saturday and San Marino on Wednesday in Belfast.

McCartney wants the side to build on the draw with the Czech Republic following the opening day defeat by Slovakia and said: "We have got to be looking at getting four points from the next two matches."

He added: "That would enable us to push up the group and put pressure on the top teams.

"We have got to start getting results in places like Slovenia. It was a tight game against Slovakia and we had a couple of chances.

"However lapses of concentration in the second half cost us and our away form is a problem. We just need that bit of luck in important matches."

McCartney has complete faith in his Sunderland team-mate David Healy breaking his duck in the campaign, sooner rather than later.

Healy is waiting to get off the mark after scoring a record 13 goals in the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign and McCartney said: "I do not think David has anything to prove. His scoring record speaks for itself.

"He is probably disappointed at not getting in the team at Sunderland and itching to get on the pitch and play some minutes.

"But all the lads here know they could do with chipping in to help him when it comes getting goals."

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David Healy
George McCartney

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