Michael O’Neill names 27-man squad for Scotland and Finland games

Michael O'Neill at Hampden Park after naming his squad for the games against Scotland and Finland
Michael O'Neill at Hampden Park after naming his squad for the games against Scotland and Finland

Michael O’Neill has named a 27-man squad for the forthcoming games against Scotland and Finland.

Northern Ireland play Scotland at Hampden Park in a friendly on Wednesday, March 25.

Four days later they host Finland at Windsor Park in a crunch Euro 2016 qualifier.

Defender Jonny Evans – currently serving a six-game suspension with Manchester United – returns to the squad after missing all of the current European campaign through suspension and injury.

Brentford youngster Stuart Dallas has also been named in O’Neill’s squad – the former Crusaders winger also missed the November qualifier in Romania through injury.

Newcastle United’s Shane Ferguson has been included, but O’Neill admits the versatile left-sided player is a major doubt for the games as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

Evans’ Manchester United team-mate Paddy McNair has been named, as has Pat McCourt who is currently on-loan at Notts County from Brighton.

“The Scotland game offers me the opportunity to give some game time to players who maybe haven’t played much during the Euro campaign, or maybe not featuring much for their club,” O’Neill said.

“There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. The two goalkeepers - Alan Mannus and Michael McGovern - have travelled around the world in the last 18-24 months and had limited opportunities. They are both having good seasons in the SPL.

“Aaron Hughes hasn’t played much this season. He hasn’t started a game since January 21.

“The Jonny Evans situation, Paddy McNair too – there are a lot of situations where players will welcome the chance to play against Scotland.

“We will assess things when we meet up on Sunday.”

SQUAD

GOALKEEPERS: Roy Carroll (Notts County), Alan Mannus (St Johnstone), Michael McGovern (Hamilton Acad).

DEFENDERS: Aaron Hughes (Brighton), Chris Baird (West Brom), Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (Man Utd), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle Utd - on-loan to Rangers), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood), Luke McCullough (Doncaster), Paddy McNair (Man Utd).

MIDFIELDERS: Steven Davis (Southampton), Chris Brunt (West Brom), Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock), Corry Evans (Blackburn), Oliver Norwood (Reading), Pat McCourt (Brighton - on-loan to Notts County), Ryan McLaughlin (Liverpool), Ben Reeves (MK Dons), Stuart Dallas (Brentford).

STRIKERS: Kyle Lafferty (Norwich - on-loan to Çaykur Rizespor), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Jamie Ward (Derby County), Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock), Billy McKay (Wigan), Will Grigg (Brentford - on-loan to MK Dons)