Mark Williams believes the Northern Ireland players have let their manager Sammy McIlroy down and need a good display against the Czech Republic in Teplice tonight to pay him back. Northern Ireland go into the World Cup qualifier on the back of a five-match losing streak and Williams readily admits McIlroy deserves better.
Many of the Irish wounds have been self-inflicted and McIlroy has been left frustrated at the number of soft goals his team have conceded. "We feel we've let Sammy and ourselves down very badly," said Williams, who returns from suspension for the game.
"It hurts, of course it hurts when you are at the airport and you are reading about yourself in the papers and another defeat. We know we've not being doing the business recently. We can say we were unlucky and that we deserved something from those games, but at the end of the day it's down to us. We want to go out and get a result for the manager as much as ourselves. We want to get a result for him."
Northern Ireland face a Czech side 94 places higher than them in the Fifa rankings with 10 players missing because of injury and suspension. They have been par- ticularly hard hit in the middle of the park where McIlroy's kindergarten midfield of Stuart Elliott, Damien Johnson, Danny Griffin and Philip Mulryne boast an average age of just 22 years and six months.
"With 10 players missing it will be the biggest test I've had," McIlroy said. "But if good players play well, then age is not a problem and I think this will be a great experience for them."