Nigel Worthington resigned to fans' boycott of Dublin tie

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington admits he has no option but to respect the decision of those fans who opt to stay away from their Carling Nations Cup clash with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Supporters are threatening to boycott the match because of travel arrangements put in place by the IFA, whereby they can only obtain tickets to the game if they travel there on approved coaches. The cost - which does not include the ticket price - has been reduced from 30 to 22 but Worthington is bracing himself for a low turnout.

He said: "There are two sides to it. There are one or two issues that our supporters have got and I've got to respect that.

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"Whatever people are there, we will be grateful for. There are others who have issues and I've got to respect what those issues are. That's up to the individuals."

Asked if the tournament should be repeated, he replied: "We've got to be fair to the sponsors, the sponsors are here and we've got to respect that and do the best we can for the situation and appreciate that. If and when the dust settles, we can reflect and see what's what."

However, he does admit the timing of the competition is not ideal. Worthington said: "The two games at this time of the season is very awkward.

"The Republic have got qualifying games so they will have pretty much all their big players around the squad. Wales have been hit quite badly, as have ourselves."

With several senior members of the squad absent, Worthington has been forced to give youth a chance and 17-year-old Ipswich midfielder Josh Carson will make his debut.

Lack of numbers means the eligibility row has surfaced again, with a Fifa ruling allowing Northern Ireland-born players to opt for the Republic, and youngsters Daniel Devine and Shane Ferguson looking likely to switch allegiance.

Worthington said: "There is a loophole in the situation. I'm a big believer that you represent the country you're born into."

The Republic are missing Anthony Stokes, who pulled out because he is tired, and defender Richard Dunne, who has shoulder and Achilles complaints.

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Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has also lost Ciaran Clark and Caleb Folan from his original squad while Manchester United pair John O'Shea and Darron Gibson will not join up until after the Champions League final on Saturday. Shane Long and Kevin Kilbane are preparing for play-off finals with Reading and Huddersfield respectively.