Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill named his squad last Friday for their upcoming game against Norway in Windsor Park on Sunday 26 March. His namesake Martin O’Neill will name the Republic of Ireland squad on Monday for their Group D game with Austria.
In Group C Northern Ireland sit second in the table five points behind Germany, with the North’s upcoming opponents Norway fifth with just three points.
O’Neill was able to bring Liam Boyce, Roy Carroll, Craig Cathcart and Ryan McLaughlin back into his squad. They all missed last autumn’s Russia 2018 qualifier win against Azerbaijan and the 3-0 friendly home loss to Croatia.
Will Grigg misses out due to a knee issue. Paddy McNair and goalkeeper Trevor Carson are also injured. Meanwhile Millwall midfielder Shane Ferguson is suspended. There is one uncapped player in the squad – the Burton Albion defender Tom Flanagan.
Will Grigg out with knee injury— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) March 10, 2017
Shane Ferguson is suspended
Paddy McNair out with ACL injury
Trevor Carson out after surgery
Speaking to irishfa.com after the squad announcement, Michael O’Neill spoke about the opponents his team faces on 26 March. “Norway haven’t had a great start with three defeats and one victory over San Marino [a 4-1 home win].
“I watched the game against the Czech Republic and they dominated a lot of the game although they lost the game 2-1. They come with a new manager, a very experienced manager in Lars Lagerback.
“They come knowing that three points is a necessity for them to try and stay in the qualification campaign. We have to make sure that we are ready for that.”
Michael O’Neill’s men have two wins under their belts in the campaign so far both 4-0 victories at Winsor Park against San Marino and Azerbaijan. They drew away with the Czech Republic and lost 2-0 in Hannover to Germany. They will face the World Champions in Belfast in October.
Northern Ireland squad to play Norway (26 March):
Goalkeepers - Michael McGovern (Norwich City), Alan Mannus (St Johnstone), Roy Carroll (Linfield)
Defenders - Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (West Brom), Chris Brunt (West Brom), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Ryan McLaughlin (Oldham Athletic), Tom Flanagan (Burton Albion)
Midfielders - Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Oliver Norwood (Brighton), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Paul Paton (St Johnstone), Matthew Lund (Rochdale)
Forwards - Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City), Josh Magennis (Charlton Athletic), Conor Washington (QPR), Liam Boyce (Ross County)
Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team.
He has been a writer with extratime.ie since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.
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