NI call-ups for uncapped players

NI call-ups for uncapped players

Five uncapped players have been called up for Northern Ireland, ahead of their friendly against Malta next month.

Michael O'Neill announced his squad for the game at the Ta'qali National Stadium on 6 February.

Striker Kyle Lafferty and defender Chris Baird have been left out as Northern Ireland will be without their services in the side's next World Cup qualifier against Russia, due to suspension.

Looking to be given their first chance will be 18-year-old Liverpool winger Ryan McLaughlin, Tranmere forward Adam McGurk, Bury goalkeeper Trevor Carson, and in-form Inverness striker Billy McKay.

"If you look at the SPL scoring charts at the minute, the two top scorers are Billy McKay at Inverness and Niall McGinn at Aberdeen, so that's a huge positive for us," O'Neill told UTV earlier this week.

It won't be an easy game. If you look at Malta's results, they lost narrowly to the Czech Republic and Italy ...

Michael O’Neill, NI

Hull defender Alex Bruce, who has previously played for the Republic of Ireland, will also be seeking his first cap against Malta.

Northern Ireland currently sit 98th in the FIFA world rankings - 48 places above their opponents.

But O'Neill won't be taking anything for granted against Malta.

"The main priority in any game is to try to win it. As a manager, that's my objective - but it's not a case of having sleepless nights or anything," he said.

"It's about getting the players together for a few days, but obviously we go there with the intention of trying to win. Hopefully, we'll be able to have a look at as many players as possible."

NI v Malta Squad

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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