Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill names his squad for testing game in DublinThu, Nov 08 2018
Ahead of the upcoming games in Dublin and Belfast, Michael O’Neill has named his Northern Ireland squad.
First up is a trip to the Aviva Stadium for a friendly on Thursday 15 November before they take on Austria in Windsor Park in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday 18 November.
“The Republic friendly is a good one for us as it will have the right intensity,” said O’Neill speaking to the IFA media team. “We want to finish with two wins against two difficult opponents. It will be a great test for us.”
The main squad news is the return of Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty, who has apologised for “an error of judgement” in the manner of his unavailability for last month’s Nations League matches away to Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Niall McGinn is back in the squad - the Aberdeen winger missed out on those recent matches due to injury. Rangers defender Gareth McAuley also returns to the squad. Missing out is Sheffield United midfielder Oliver Norwood as he is required to sit out a suspension.
Included are three players who were part of the Under21 squad who last month finished second to Spain in their U21 Euro qualification group, with Ian Baraclough’s team just missing out on a play-off for a place at the finals next year.
Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard, QPR winger Paul Smyth and Blackpool midfielder Jordan Thompson are included with the trio all having previously featured for the senior team in international friendlies.
“They deserve to be there,” said O’Neill. “It is a reward to them for that. We are trying to give them the opportunity. That pathway to play international football is there for them and they will bring a nice freshness to the squad.”
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Norwich City), Trevor Carson (Motherwell), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United), Conor Hazard (Celtic).
Defenders: Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (Glasgow Rangers), Jonathan Evans (Leicester City), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough), Jamal Lewis (Norwich City), Michael Smith (Hearts), Tom Flanagan (Sunderland).
Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), George Saville (Middlesbrough, loan), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), Gavin Whyte (Oxford United), Jordan Thompson (Blackpool).
Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers), Jamie Ward (Charlton Athletic, loan), Liam Boyce (Burton Albion), Paul Smyth (Queens Park Rangers), Kyle Vassell (Rotherham United).