Northern Ireland announce provisional squad for Euros

Thu, May 19 2016

Michael O'Neill alongside his group oppenents at the draw for the European Championships Credit:

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has named his 28-man provisional squad for the 2016 European Championships in France.


The extended squad has been named for the friendly international against Belarus at Windsor Park on May, 27, before the squad is cut down to the compulsory 23 the next day.


Southampton midfielder Steven Davis will captain the side into their first major championship appearance since 1986, while Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley, both of West Bromwich Albion have also been included by the former Shamrock Rovers manager O’Neill.


O’Neill has also opted to include the experience of Aaron Hughes, Roy Carroll and Chris Baird, while Manchester United youngster Paddy McNair has also been named in the squad despite not featuring for Louis Van Gaal’s side since February.


It is going forward that the North possess their greatest threat with Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty expected to lead the line even though he failed to start a single Premier League game since August. Will Grigg of Wigan Athletic, Kilmarnock’s Josh Magennis, Billy McKay from Dundee United, former Cliftonville and current Ross County hot shot Liam Boyce and Queens Park Rangers front man Conor Washington make up the striking department that O’Neill hopes can breach the defences of Germany, Poland and Ukraine in Group C this summer.


Chris Brunt will be unavailable to his side for the tournament having picked up a season-ending injury playing for West Brom earlier this year, but there have been no other major oversights from O’Neill’s squad.


Three ‘keepers have been named in the squad: Michael McGovern (Hamilton Academical), Alan Mannus (St. Johnstone) and Roy Carroll (Notts County).


McGovern is expected to be O’Neill’s first choice shot stopper for the tournament having played the most during qualifying.


Ahead of the upcoming friendly, O’Neill said: "We will use the Belarus game to look at our options, our systems and how we play. It's also a chance to look at personnel and to give players opportunities.


"We are on a good run at the minute and we want to continue that run. It is important that we approach the match in the same way as we have approached all our other games since qualification. In those we are unbeaten. We have won two and drawn one. We have only conceded one goal and that was from a penalty. Those are little things that build confidence and momentum going into a tournament.


NI open their campaign on June, 12 against Poland in Nice before they face Ukraine four days later in Lyon. The green army end their group campaign on June, 21 by facing world champions Germany in Paris.


The 28-man provisional squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Hamilton Academical), Alan Mannus (St. Johnstone) and Roy Carroll (Notts County).

Defenders: Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jonathan Evans (West Bromwich Albion), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Hughes (Melbourne City), Daniel Lafferty (Burnley), Michael Smith (Peterborough United), Paddy McNair (Manchester United), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town), Luke McCullough (Doncaster Rovers), Chris Baird (Derby County).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Oliver Norwood (Reading), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest), Ben Reeves (MK Dons).

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Norwich City), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock), Liam Boyce (Ross County), Conor Washington (Queens Park Rangers), Will Grigg (Wigan Athletic), Billy McKay (Dundee United).