David Healy has been backed to end his goal drought as Northern Ireland prepare to face Poland in a 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Saturday. The Sunderland striker has failed to score in his last six matches for his country, and is stuck on 35 goals in 75 internationals.

Healy did not even make the bench for his club at Stoke City last weekend, and that has led to further question marks over his form and fitness. However, Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is baffled that anyone could doubt the quality the 30-year-old can bring to the team.

It is silly really that people are writing him off. He is going to be scoring goals for Northern Ireland for many years to come.

Jonny Evans on his Northern Ireland team-mate David Healy

"It is silly really that people are writing him off. It is a bit embarrassing sometimes that a lot of people run him down," Evans told the BBC. "When you look at David's record he is a hero and still young-ish. He is going to be scoring goals for Northern Ireland for many years to come."

Evans is happy to keep the shutters down and expects a hard shift against Poland at the Slaski Stadium. Northern Ireland are currently two points behind Slovakia and face the Group 3 leaders next Wednesday at Windsor Park.

"As a defender you do not want to concede goals," Evans said. "That's going to be a big thing when we play Poland. If we do not concede we will go away from the game with at least a point.

"It is a tough ask as they will probably have a lot of the ball and put us under pressure. But if we get a result it sets us up nicely for the remaining games and even closer to qualifying."

Wide open
Poland and the Czech Republic - Northern Ireland's final opponents - have some catching up to do, and Rangers midfielder Steven Davis believes Group 3 is still wide open. "There's not really one team that has run away with it or got a great run of results," he said.

"We had a bad start and managed to get ourselves back in it. We have won four games on the bounce so hopefully we can continue that form. Most people probably expected the Czechs and Poland to ease through, but from our point of view we knew we were capable of competing.

"There are a lot of teams fighting for those two positions, so we've kept ourselves in with a shout with three games to go."