O'Neill names NI squad to face Cyprus

Published Wednesday, 26 February 2014
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The squad has been named for Northern Ireland's friendly against Cyprus.

O'Neill names NI squad to face Cyprus
Michael O''Neill has named his squad for the game on 5 March. (© Pacemaker)

Michael O'Neill's 22-man squad for the game in Nicosia next week includes a new face in uncapped MK Dons midfielder Ben Reeves.

The 22-year-old, who was born in England, hasn't represented NI at age-group level but joins the senior squad after scoring 10 times in 31 club appearances this season.

"Ben is a player I've known was eligible, through his grandmother, for about 12 months or so, since he was at Southampton," said O'Neill.

"He struggled to make the breakthrough there into the big time, but they are such a good grounding for youngsters and their academy is recognised for the quality players it is producing.

Ben is rebuilding at MK Dons now, playing well and scoring goals from midfield.

Michael O'Neill

"I've been monitoring him closely for three or four months and he's had some really good games in that time. I went to meet him personally and he's decided to throw his hat in with NI, which is good news."

Meanwhile O'Neill is without injured Manchester United centre-half Jonny Evans, as well as former captain Aaron Hughes and the unattached Chris Baird.

The defence will nevertheless be bolstered by the return of West Brom's Gareth McAuley.

Palermo striker Kyle Lafferty is also back in action for the first time since he was sent off during last September's 4-2 defeat to Portugal.

O'Neill continued: "There's Gareth McAuley and Craig Cathcart, who's played a lot under me. Alex Bruce hasn't played that much but he's fit and playing now for Hull and we have Rory McArdle too.

"We may have to have a little versatility, but it gives others opportunities."

The game will be played in Cyprus next Wednesday.

Northern Ireland squad in full:

R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), M McGovern (Falkirk), D Lafferty (Burnley), R McGivern (Hibernian), G McAuley (West Brom), R McArdle (Bradford), C Cathcart (Blackpool), A Bruce (Hull), S Ferguson (Newcastle), S Davis (Capt, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Brunt (West Brom), S Clingan (Kilmarnock), P McCourt (Barnsley), B Reeves (MK Dons), N McGinn (Aberdeen), B McKay (Inverness), M Paterson (Huddersfield), J Ward (Derby), D Shiels (Rangers), K Lafferty (Palermo).

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Canice in Derry wrote (333 days ago):
Desperate comes to mind.
shamrock in Belfast wrote (334 days ago):
What an embarrasssing line up!!! I'm sure san Marino and outer Mongolia would be quaking in their boots!!!
Franco in Belfast wrote (334 days ago):
I would like to ask M O'Neill why Michael Duff is never picked in his squads, he gets rave reviews every week and his team mate Lafferty can't get into the Burnley team yet he is picked every time, seems very unfair unless there are other reasons
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