Feeney's debut maintains family tradition

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The Independent Online

Warren Feeney will make a small piece of football history against Liechtenstein tonight by becoming the third generation of his family to play for Northern Ireland.

The Bournemouth striker, 21, will follow in the footsteps of his late grandfather, James, and father, Warren senior who proudly keeps all the family football souvenirs on show in his Belfast home. James Feeney won two caps against England in 1947 and against Scotland in 1950, while Warren made his only international appearance against Israel in 1976.

Feeney said, "My cap will be a bit of history but I'll put that to the back of my mind when I go out on the pitch. I'll just concentrate on trying to do well."

Feeney will start alongside Preston striker David Healy, who will be hoping to move closer to Northern Ireland's record of 13 goals. Healy has recently had to operate as a lone striker because of Northern Ireland's paucity of decent forwards. Now McIlroy hopes Feeney can share the burden.

"We can pass the ball and we can keep the ball, but you have to put it in the back of the net," said McIlroy. "Can we create more, have more bodies in the box and play with an extra man up front?"

Feeney, who has scored 12 goals for Second Division Bournemouth this season, played with Healy at one of Manchester United's schools of excellence in Northern Ireland. He said: "I hope we can get a partnership going. I'd love to keep my place for the match against Spain at Windsor Park next month because then my dad could come along."

The rest of McIlroy's side for the friendly in Vaduz's Rhinepark Stadium virtually picks itself because of five withdrawals. The Wimbledon centre-back Mark Williams will win his first cap since June following his return from two broken legs and Partick's Stephen Craigan is expected to replace him at some stage to make his debut.

Wrexham's Shaun Holmes, who could win his first cap at left-back, vies with West Ham's Grant McCann for that position.

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