Sunday 18 March 2018

Ward pulls out of friendlies

Jamie Ward will not travel to South America with Northern Ireland
Jamie Ward will not travel to South America with Northern Ireland

Derby striker Jamie Ward has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for the friendlies against Uruguay and Chile.

Ward, whose Rams side take on QPR in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday, feels it is "not in his best interests or the interests of the international squad for him to travel to South America due to his extended club season", the Irish Football Association said in a statement.

Fleetwood right-back Conor McLaughlin has been called up and will join up with the national squad after Monday's League Two play-off final against Southend.

Huddersfield striker Martin Paterson pulled out of the squad on Tuesday.

Michael O'Neill's side Ireland face Uruguay in Montevideo on May 30 and then take on Chile in Valparaiso on June 4.

McLaughlin's call-up is welcome news for Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander.

"It's thoroughly deserved. He's had a great season so far. He has one more game to do for us before he relaxes and goes to be an international," Alexander said.

"We knew there was interest from the manager a few weeks ago but we were fully behind that because he's good enough. It's an honour for the club to have a current international playing for us.

"It's great for Conor because he deserves it, it's great for us because we want to see our players do well.

"But he has to focus on Monday, and Monday only, then I'll let him think about South America afterwards."

Press Association

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