Camp backed to shine as stand-in

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Football News

Northern Ireland may have lost the most experienced player in their squad but defender Craig Cathcart has backed a potential debutant to replace him.

Veteran Birmingham goalkeeper Maik Taylor, 39, has been ruled out of the Euro 2012 qualifier in Serbia on Friday as well as the home clash with Slovenia four days later meaning Nottingham Forest stopper Lee Camp is now in line for his first cap.

"I'm sure he will cope with that; he looks a cool customer," Cathcart said. "At Forest there is a lot of pressure anyway because they are a big club and they want to be getting out of the Championship. He'll have no problem coping."

The Blackpool defender conceded Taylor would be a loss to the squad but has been impressed by what he has seen from his would-be successor.

"Maik being out of this game is a big miss," Cathcart added.

"He has so much experience and he has been around the squad for so long, so it's a blow. But we have Jonathan Tuffey and now Lee too. I played against Lee a couple of times with Blackpool when we were in the Championship last season and he looks a good player. It looks like he's had a couple of great seasons since Forest got him."

Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington has confirmed Fulham's Chris Baird will captain the side against Serbia to mark his 50th appearance, taking the armband from club-mate Aaron Hughes.

Leading the side out will be a unique experience at the Crvena Zvezda Stadium, with home fans banned after crowd trouble in Italy last year but around 250 visiting supporters in attendance after an appeal to UEFA.


Despite the strange atmosphere of a near-deserted ground, Baird is proud of the achievement.

"The 50th cap is amazing, I didn't think I would get there but I am proud it has come around," he said. "I'm delighted, I'm honoured. Fifty caps for your country is good going and I'm privileged.n I've had the captaincy before and lost both games but it is nice to captain the side. It's another great honour for me personally and it will be lovely to lead the side in Serbia."

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Craig Cathcart
Lee Camp

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