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Page last updated at 20:41 GMT, Sunday, 10 October 2010 21:41 UK

Craigan praises Northern Ireland keeper Maik Taylor

Euro 2012 qualifier: Faroe Islands v Northern Ireland
Venue: Toftir Date: Tuesday 12 October Kick-off: 1600 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Ulster MW and online; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles


Maik Taylor
Maik Taylor has won 86 caps for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland defender Stephen Craigan believes goalkeeper Maik Taylor is an inspiration to his team-mates.

The 39-year-old Birmingham City shot-stopper goes into Tuesday's Euro 2012 qualifier against the Faroe Islands on the back of two clean sheets.

"He always challenges himself, whether he is playing or not. He keeps wanting to do well, wanting to improve and he is a great influence," said Craigan.

"It sets a wonderful example to the younger players in the squad."

Taylor was again in top form in Friday's draw with group leaders Italy at Windsor Park.

Craigan added: "If they have any thoughts or any doubts that they can't be bothered, they should look at Maik and how he goes about his business. I think if he can keep going, I can keep going.

"He loves playing for Northern Ireland like most of us do. Having that strength of character is a huge help to me."

Taylor has had to play second fiddle to Joe Hart then Ben Foster for the last two seasons at Birmingham

But despite his lack of big match action he has remained solid for Northern Ireland.

"You would think he had played 10 or 12 games this season," said the Motherwell player.

"To play so infrequently and produce performances like that against Italy, you don't get it by luck.

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"You do it by hard work and making sure when your chance comes along you have got to be on your toes and he has done that."

Under former Republic of Ireland boss Brian Kerr, the Faroes suffered their fourth successive defeat in the campaign when they lost 5-1 to Slovenia.

Despite having four points on the board, Craigan is cautious of his side's chances given they have slipped up against so-called smaller nations in the past.

He said: "They are the underdogs because of the size of the country. I do not think we are that good we think we are world beaters.

"If you get ahead of yourself you get a slap on the face. You have to be careful.

"Having two clean sheets is a pleasing stat to look at. It would not have mattered to us if we had won 5-4 or 4-3. Ultimately it is about trying to get points on the board.

"I would expect Brian Kerr would fancy his chances and try and get a positive result.

"Our game plan is the same every time which is putting teams under pressure and putting ourselves about. We just have to be tuned in against the Faroes."



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see also
Faroe Islands 1-1 N Ireland
12 Oct 10 |  Irish
Worthington proud of NI display
08 Oct 10 |  Irish
N Ireland 0-0 Italy
08 Oct 10 |  Irish
Barton u-turn disappoints NI boss
29 Sep 10 |  Northern Ireland
N Ireland call up teenager Barton
28 Sep 10 |  Irish
Italy boss wary of Windsor clash
08 Sep 10 |  Irish
Slovenia 0-1 Northern Ireland
03 Sep 10 |  Irish
NI display superb - Worthington
03 Sep 10 |  Irish
Italy 3-0 Northern Ireland
06 Jun 09 |  Internationals


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