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O'Neill names Northern Ireland squad for start of Euro 2020 campaign

Tue, Mar 12 2019

Michael O'Neill Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has named a 27 man strong squad for the first two games of his team’s Euro 2020 campaign.

His side ease into the qualifiers with a double header at home against Estonia and Belarus next week before the difficulties rise later in the campaign when they will conclude with their final four games being home and away to Germany and the Netherlands.

Called into the squad is 19-year-old Arsenal centre half Daniel Ballard, who has played four times at under-21 level. He captained the Gunners youth team last season and has been a regular in Arsenal’s under-23 team.

Returning to the Northern Ireland squad after recent absences are Sunderland striker Will Grigg and Sheffield United forward Conor Washington, but omitted are Sheffield United player Oliver Norwood, Nottingham Forest forward Jamie Ward and Hearts defender Michael Smith.

Also missing out are Rotherham United striker Kyle Vassell and Motherwell goalkeeper Trevor Carson. 

There is a place in the squad though for experienced Rangers defender Gareth McAuley despite having ongoing treatment on a hamstring injury in recent weeks.

Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Norwich City), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United), Conor Hazard (Celtic).

Defenders: Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (Rangers), Jonathan Evans (Leicester City), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough), Jamal Lewis (Norwich City), Tom Flanagan (Sunderland), Daniel Ballard (Arsenal).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), George Saville (Middlesbrough), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), Gavin Whyte (Oxford United), Jordan Thompson (Blackpool).

Strkers: Kyle Lafferty (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers), Liam Boyce (Burton Albion), Paul Smyth (Queens Park Rangers), Will Grigg (Sunderland), Conor Washington (Sheffield United)

Meanwhile former Newcastle United, Hull City and Sunderland goalkeeper, Steve Harper, has been appointed as the new goalkeeping coach for the Northern Ireland senior men’s international team. 

He replaces Maik Taylor who stepped down from that role earlier this month.

Harper is currently lead academy goalkeeping coach at Newcastle United where he made 199 appearances for Newcastle United between 1993 and 2013, and is the longest serving player in the club’s history.

Michael O’Neill said: “With young goalkeepers like Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Conor Hazard in our squad, it is important that we have a coach who can help maximise potential. 

“Steve is an excellent fit in that regard and I believe that both his experience and his knowledge of the game will prove invaluable for us going forward.”