Sanchez pushes Healy to break scoring record

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The Northern Ireland manager, Lawrie Sanchez, expects David Healy to smash the side's 11-year-old scoring record.

The Preston striker took his tally for the province to nine goals with a landmark strike on Wednesday night. Healy's header in the 4-1 defeat by Norway was Northern Ireland's first goal in 1298 minutes.

Sanchez wants Healy to overtake Colin Clarke's record of 13 goals, which has stood since 1993. The former Wycombe Wanderers manager said: "The goal took a fair time in coming. I have told David that his target is Colin Clarke's record. I can't see any reason why he can't beat it.

"He could have had a hat-trick. He had a one-on-one and one before that where he could probably have scored."

Healy said: "I am delighted it was me who got the goal. People can say what they like about the lack of goals but the one thing they cannot deny is that we have never failed to keep trying and creating the chances."

Sanchez intends to keep the front pair of Healy and Glentoran's Andy Smith, the squad's only part-time player, against Estonia next month. Sanchez said: "Andy gave everything we wanted from a centre-forward and was outstanding. He reminded me of a young Gerry Armstrong.

"The Healy and Smith partnership is looking good. They caused Norway a number of problems."

Meanwhile Sanchez will not be contacting Celtic's Neil Lennon about a possible return to international duty. Sanchez said: "It is for the player, not just Neil, but any of the players who have retired, to come back and say they want to play again. I have seen reports saying I am going to speak to Neil but that's not the case."