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Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 17:21 UK

Northern Ireland captain Stephen Craigan defends tour

Stephen Craigan gives instructions during training in Connecticut on Tuesday
Craigan gives instructions during training in Connecticut on Tuesday

Northern Ireland captain Stephen Craigan believes the two-game tour against Turkey and Chile has more positives than negatives.

Most senior players have opted out of the tour, which starts against Turkey in Connecticut on Wednesday (1830 BST).

"Some people have been critical of the tour but it's nice to get away and play against teams you'll probably never get a chance to play again," said Craigan.

"This is an opportunity for some guys to put a marker down."

Nigel Worthington's squad includes six Irish League players and a host of youngsters aiming for a first senior international cap.

"For a country like ourselves, I think the last time we had an end-of-season tour was 2006 to America again, and Steve Davis came through from it, Sammy Clingan, Kyle Lafferty came through, and they established themselves as full internationals," added the Motherwell defender.

"So if we can get another three or four from this tour and put a marker down for the next two or three years then that's exactly what a country like ourselves needs.

"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 and 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."

The friendly at the Veterans Stadium is followed by a game against World Cup bound Chile in Chillan on Sunday.

Northern Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Ross County), Alan Blayney (Linfield)

Defenders: Colin Coates (Crusaders), Stephen Craigan (Motherwell), Andrew Little (Rangers), Rory McArdle (Rochdale), Gareth McAuley (Ipswich Town), Ryan McGiven (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Corry Evans (Manchester United), Kevin Braniff (Portadown), John Gorman (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Robert Garrett (Linfield), Jamie Mulgrew (Linfield), Michael Bryan (Watford)

Forwards: Josh Magennis (Cardiff City), Warren Feeney (Cardiff City), James Lawrie (Port Vale), Rory Patterson (Coleraine)

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see also
Teenager Gorman set for NI debut
24 May 10 |  Irish
Craigan handed NI tour captaincy
21 May 10 |  Irish
Keeper Blayney in NI tour squad
13 May 10 |  Football
N Ireland stars missing for tour
11 May 10 |  Football

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