Sanchez puts trust in Healy to lift chances of qualifying

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The Independent Football

Lawrie Sanchez is preparing to dream should Northern Ireland rattle Denmark today. He believes a good result would heighten the mood of confidence in the camp and give them a fighting chance of qualifying for Euro 2008.

The manager said: "It would be an amazing achievement to get through the group. We need to come away from this game against Denmark without losing if we want to upset the apple cart. I do not think we are capable of going for a draw. We have to try to win, then see what happens. Denmark, Sweden and Spain are rightly seen as the top three teams, but I believe we can qualify. We have built up a head of momentum and have had success together. We want that to continue."

Northern Ireland go into the match on the back of a surprise victory against Spain thanks to a hat-trick from David Healy. The Leeds striker faces the Danes looking to improve on his impressive tally of 23 goals in 52 games.

Sanchez has nothing but praise for Healy, whose record is all the more remarkable considering that Northern Ireland not so long ago went 1,298 minutes without scoring. But since the former Wycombe manager took charge that problem has been eradicated and results have improved. Sanchez said: "Healy is a player you can rely on and it is a phenomenal record at this level. He went a long time without scoring but he is now getting his reward for persevering."

The captain, Aaron Hughes, is poised to win his 50th cap, while Chris Baird looks set to retain his place in the team after recovering from a stomach virus. Sanchez said: "Chris trained well this morning, so we have no concerns about his fitness." Damien Johnson is also available again after sitting out the first two qualifiers through suspension.