Chris Baird says he’s delighted to be getting a regular game at centre back again – and will be happy to replace Jonny Evans there as Northern Ireland take on Estonia tomorrow night.

The Manchester United defender has withdrawn from Nigel Worthington’s squad with an ankle injury leaving Northern Ireland short on options ahead of the closing two qualfiers of their European Championship campaign. Baird is now likely to partner Gareth McAuley at the heart of a rejigged defence, although that holds no fears for the Fulham man who has already been deputising for the injured Aaron Hughes at club level.

I’m happy because I’m playing [there] at my club and for my country. I enjoy the holding midfield role but I’m playing at centre-half at the minute and love it.
It is my favourite position and I’ve played there for Fulham since Aaron got injured and it it is definitely my favourite position. If Nigel decides to play me there then I would be delighted but I will be happy playing anywhere to be honest.
Baird has also backed Worthington, who has come under pressure after Northern Ireland’s hopes of making the finals faded in recent months.
A lot of guys have said they back Nigel and I’m one of them.

He has been fantastic for us. He has been great for our country and great for the players who have worked under him.
He’s always stuck by us and, personally, he backed me and picked me for big games. He has everyone’s respect, he’s a good coach and I back him.
We are a small nation, we have only a certain amount of players to choose from and we have had a few injuries in recent times but I think Nigel has been great for the country. Whatever Nigel decides to do, stay on or go, I will respect but I would certainly like him to stay after this campaign.
Baird still believes Northern Ireland can make it to a major finals.
Getting to a major tournament will always be very hard for us. That’s not going to change.
We have been close but of course I’d love to get there. It would be the icing on the cake for me having played in an FA Cup final and a European final.
Hopefully we’ll get a few results in the next two games because it has been very frustrating.

We start well then we slip up at crucial times after getting ourselves into a great position. Maybe it is a mental thing for some players. It’s so frustrating.
I really don’t know but it always seems to backfire on us.