Saturday 17 March 2018

O'Neill could award first caps

Billy McKay, left, has impressed for Inverness this season
Billy McKay, left, has impressed for Inverness this season

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has called up five uncapped players for next month's friendly against Malta.

Striker Kyle Lafferty, who is suspended for the next World Cup qualifier against Russia, has been left out so in-form Inverness striker Billy McKay will hope to be given a chance up front after being included.

Tranmere forward Adam McGurk has been called up for the first time while 18-year-old Liverpool winger Ryan McLaughlin and Hull defender Alex Bruce, who has previously played for the Republic of Ireland, will be hoping to win their first caps.

Uncapped Bury goalkeeper Trevor Carson is also included for the February 6 game, but Fulham defender Chris Baird joins Lafferty on the sidelines as he is also suspended for the Russia game.

Northern Ireland squad to face Malta in friendly at Ta'qali National Stadium on February 6: R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), T Carson (Bury), A Hughes (Fulham), R McGivern (Manchester City, on loan at Hibernian), J Evans (Man Utd), C Cathcart (Blackpool), G McAuley ( West Brom).

A Bruce (Hull), D Lafferty (Burnley), S Davis (captain, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Evans (Hull), N McGinn (Aberdeen), C Brunt (West Brom), S Ferguson (Newcastle), R McLaughlin (Liverpool), D Shiels (Rangers), W Grigg (Walsall), J Ward (Derby), B McKay (Inverness), P McCourt (Celtic), A McGurk (Tranmere).

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