Departing Worthington angry at N Ireland absentees

Nigel Worthington has delivered stern criticism of players who opted out of games during his reign as his parting shot after quitting the Northern Ireland manager's job.

Earlier this week, veteran keeper Maik Taylor also hit out at players "who don't even bother turning up".

"The friendlies have been like trying to push water up a hill," said Worthington after Tuesday's 3-0 Euro 2012 qualifier defeat by Italy.

"It comes down to the individual."

Worthington added:"If you want to be a David Healy and get 91 caps or be a Maik Taylor and get 87 or 88 caps and play at the top, then you've got to turn up.

"The three games in the Celtic (Nations) Cup (earlier this year) were an absolute disaster - not just for me but for the players, the supporters...everything. There was just no interest.

"That week that we had the two games was probably the hardest week for me in the last four years.

"It's been a challenge. (Although) The qualifiers I've really enjoyed."

Worthington announced his decision to step down on Monday after over four years in the job.