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Northern Ireland game "to go ahead"

Published 01/03/2014 | 10:07

Patrick Nelson believes the game can go ahead
Patrick Nelson believes the game can go ahead

Northern Ireland's friendly in Cyprus next week is expected to go ahead despite the bombing of a referee's car on the island.

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All first division matches in Cyprus this weekend have been cancelled but Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson is confident the international in Nicosia on Wednesday will take place.

Nelson, in Zurich for the International FA Board meeting, said: "The latest information is that the incident would have nothing to do with international football and wouldn't put the game in jeopardy.

"However, we're being sensible, we're monitoring developments, we're going to be in touch with the Cypriot FA again later today, we're waiting for the FCO - the Foreign and Commonwealth Office - to comment on it and we're keeping our eyes on it."

The car of a top Cypriot official - named by the Cyprus Football Association as Leontios Trattos - was damaged by a bomb explosion on Friday morning, but no one was injured.

A friendly between Ukraine and the United States is also scheduled for Larnaca on Wednesday due to political unrest in the eastern European country.

England's women are also due to play Italy in the Cyprus Cup in Nicosia on the same day.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill named a 22-man squad for the match, with the likes of Southampton's Steven Davis and West Brom duo Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt included.

O'Neill will not be able to call on Sammy Clingan for the match though after he was forced to withdraw through injury on Saturday, with Dundee United's Paul Paton being called up to replace him.

Kilmarnock midfielder Clingan was replaced after 26 minutes of Saturday's Scottish Premiership defeat at St Mirren after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury having come off worse in a strong challenge on Sean Kelly.

Press Association

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