Ian Baraclough has named his first Northern Ireland squad since taking over from Michael O’ Neil ahead of UEFA Nations League matches against Romania and Norway next month.
Baraclough has retained O’ Neil’s initial goalkeeper selection of Michael McGovern, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Trevor Carson from March’s planned Euro 2020 play-off against Bosnia and Herzegovina, prior to its cancellation due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Baraclough however has dropped Ciaron Brown from his defensive options and instead dropped Stuart Dallas and Shane Ferguson from his midfield selection into the defence section, underlining the versatility of both players.
Rangers’ Steven Davis leads the midfield selection with Corry Evans and Joel Cooper both added at the expense of Motherwell’s Liam Donnelly who misses out through a knee injury, which is likely to also sideline him for October’s international games which include; the postponed Euro 2020 play-off in Bosnia and Herzegovina before Nations League matches against Austria and Norway.
Evans was set to miss the play-off in March after suffering a serious head injury but the postponement has offered him a reprieve, whilst Cooper is called up to the national team for the first time since switching to Oxford United last month.
Rangers’ Jordan Jones has meanwhile received his first call-up since June 2019 for the national team.
Kyle Lafferty will once again lead the forward selection alongside Liam Boyce, Josh Magennis and Conor Washington, as the quadruplet are joined by Linfield’s Shayne Lavery who receives his first call-up since last November.
Northern Ireland will play away to Romania in their opening Nations League Group B1 match on 4 September (7:45pm BST), before hosting Norway at Windsor Park in Belfast on 7 September (7:45pm BST) with both matches held behind closed doors.
Here is Northern Ireland’s full squad for Nations League matches against Romania and Norway.
Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Norwich), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Trevor Carson (Motherwell)
Defence: Jonny Evans (Leicester), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Conor McLaughlin (Sunderland), Jamal Lewis (Norwich), Michael Smith (Hearts), Tom Flanagan (Sunderland)
Midfield: Steven Davis (Rangers), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), George Saville (Middlesbrough), Gavin Whyte (Cardiff), Jordan Jones (Rangers), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City), Matthew Kennedy (Aberdeen), Joel Cooper (Oxford United)
Forward: Kyle Lafferty (Reggina), Josh Magennis (Hull), Conor Washington (Charlton), Liam Boyce (Hearts), Shayne Lavery (Linfield)