Kofi Balmer called into NI squad for Nations League double header

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has included one new face in his squad for the UEFA Nations League matches against Kosovo and Greece this month.

Kofi Balmer has received his first senior call-up after switching from Larne to Crystal Palace in the summer. The young defender, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Monday, previously played for his country at U21 and U19 level. He is the only uncapped player in the panel.

The 24-strong Northern Ireland squad for the League C Group 2 home game against Kosovo (24 September) and away fixture against Greece (27 September) shows several changes from the one chosen by Baraclough for the Nations League quadruple header in June.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wigan Athletic striker Josh Magennis, Sunderland midfielder Corry Evans, Rotherham United wing-back Shane Ferguson, Shrewsbury Town defender Tom Flanagan and HJK Helsinki goalkeeper Conor Hazard have all returned to the ranks.

Kofi Balmer has received his first senior call-upKofi Balmer has received his first senior call-up
Kofi Balmer has received his first senior call-up

Also back is Newcastle United defender Jamal Lewis, who is fully fit again after a series of injury setbacks last season.

Manchester City midfielder Shea Charles retains his place in the panel after making his senior bow and playing in all four Nations League games back in June. And Glentoran winger Conor McMenamin is also included once again after making his senior debut and earning three caps in early summer.

To date Northern Ireland have drawn twice and lost twice in C2. They opened their latest Nations League campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Greece in Belfast before drawing 0-0 away to Cyprus. The third game in the summertime quadruple header saw them lose 3-2 away to Kosovo, while the final game in the series was a 2-2 draw with Cyprus at home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sunderland defender Daniel Ballard, who scored against Kosovo in Pristina, is not available for the final two games of the campaign due to injury, while missing out this time are Dundee winger Niall McGinn, Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Donnelly and Huddersfield Town defender Brodie Spencer, who made his senior debut in June.

Also not included are goalkeepers Luke Southwood, currently on loan at Cheltenham Town from Reading, and former Glenavon stopper Josh Clarke, who is now with Celtic.

Middlesbrough midfielder Caolan Boyd-Munce, Sunderland defender Trai Hume, Rangers midfielder Charlie McCann and Leeds United midfielder Alfie McCalmont are the other players from the previous squad missing out this month.

Watford defender Craig Cathcart and Rotherham United striker Conor Washington, both of whom missed the four matches in early summer, have not been included in the panel, while Leeds United defender/midfielder Stuart Dallas is a long term absentee due to injury.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Northern Ireland squad for UEFA Nations League matches v Kosovo and Greece:

Goalkeepers – Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Trevor Carson (St Mirren), Conor Hazard (HJK Helsinki).

Defenders – Jonny Evans (Leicester City), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), Conor Bradley (Bolton Wanderers, on loan from Liverpool), Jamal Lewis (Newcastle United), Tom Flanagan (Shrewsbury Town), Ciaron Brown (Oxford United), Paddy Lane (Fleetwood Town), Kofi Balmer (Crystal Palace).

Midfielders – Steven Davis (Rangers), Corry Evans (Sunderland), Shane Ferguson (Rotherham United), George Saville (Millwall), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City), Alistair McCann (Preston North End), Shea Charles (Manchester City), Conor McMenamin (Glentoran).

Forwards – Kyle Lafferty (Kilmarnock), Josh Magennis (Wigan Athletic), Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City), Shayne Lavery (Blackpool), Dion Charles (Bolton Wanderers).