Michael O’Neill voices disappointment as big-name stars miss tour

Liverpool defender Ryan McLaughlin has been included in the squad
Liverpool defender Ryan McLaughlin has been included in the squad
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Michael O’Neill has voiced his disappointment after a number of his senior players turned down the chance to play against Uruguay and Chile.

The Northern Ireland manager has named a 22-man squad to travel to South America this summer.

O’Neill’s has assembled a panel of experience and youth as he prepares for testing friendlies against the two World Cup finalists.

Injury has ruled out Manchester United’s Jonny Evans, Hull City’s Alex Bruce, and MK Dons pair Ben Reeves and Lee Hodson.

Also missing for the trip are Chris Brunt, Gareth McAuley, Kyle Lafferty, Pat McCourt, Craig Cathcart and Will Grigg.

Palermo striker Lafferty was not considered due to the ongoing Italian season, while McCourt and Cathcart are keen to settle their club futures.

“It is obviously pleasing to have some of the more experienced players in the squad, but to be honest I am more disappointed with the players who aren’t,” O’Neill said.

“I think some of the reasons given were poor and unacceptable. For me, the only valid reason for not being available is injury.

“Jonny (Evans) and Lee (Hodson) have both had procedures, so those are valid reasons. But outside of that, I think it is hard to justify.

“This is a great opportunity to play against two world-class sides, so it is disappointing that some don’t want to take that opportunity. I’ve spoken to all the players. They were notified five months ago that this trip was a possibility.

“They were also included in a provisional squad seven to eight weeks ago. This tour wasn’t a surprise.”

O’Neill has named five uncapped players in his squad for the games against Uruguay and Chile on May 30 and June 4 respectively.

Liverpool defender Ryan McLaughlin returns to the international set-up, while Doncaster Rovers defender Luke McCullough,Fulham teenager Liam Donnelly, Portsmouth goalkeeper Trevor Carson and Dundee United’s Paul Paton – who played in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final defeat to St Johnstone – are also included.

N Ireland Squad

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Olympiacos), Michael McGovern (Falkirk), Trevor Carson (Portsmouth).

Defenders: Daniel Lafferty (Burnley), Ryan McLaughlin (Liverpool), Aaron Hughes (QPR), Luke McCullough (Doncaster), Liam Donnelly (Fulham), Chris Baird (Burnley).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield Town), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle Utd), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock), Jonny Steele (New York Red Bulls), Paul Paton (Dundee Utd).

Forwards: Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Billy McKay (Inverness CT), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield Town), Jamie Ward (Derby County), Dean Shiels (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Aberdeen).