Evans in, Lafferty out as Baraclough names squad for World Cup qualifiers

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Jonny Evans

Q Radio Sport

Northern Ireland senior men’s boss Ian Baraclough has bolstered his squad with a wealth of experienced players ahead of next month’s matches against Lithuania, Estonia and Switzerland.

Baraclough’s boys will be back in FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying action with a trip to Vilnius (2 September) followed by a home clash against the Swiss six days later (8 September). In between the two Group C games they take on Estonia in an international challenge match in Tallinn (5 September).

And the manager has named a much-changed squad from the one that defeated Malta and narrowly lost out to Ukraine earlier in the summer.

Eight players make a return, including Northern Ireland’s most-capped player of all time, Steven Davis (pictured), and vice-captain Jonny Evans as he aims to progress his recovery from injury.

Back among the 25-strong panel is goalkeeper Trevor Carson who made the move from Motherwell to Dundee United in July, while Michael Smith and Jamal Lewis are also back in the frame and named among the defenders.

New Sunderland skipper Corry Evans is listed among the midfield contingent and striker Conor Washington – who hasn’t featured since coming on as a second-half sub in last November’s 1-1 draw at home to Romania – makes his return to the international stage.

After a promising start to life in the EFL Championship with newly-promoted Blackpool, Shayne Lavery also gets the nod, as does Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles.

The squad also features several other experienced players including Watford defender Craig Cathcart, Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn, Leeds United midfielder Stuart Dallas and Hull City forward Josh Magennis, all of whom have over 50 caps.

Rotherham United recruit Shane Ferguson is just one appearance away from reaching the 50 caps milestone while Paddy McNair, who captained Middlesbrough at the weekend, will also make the 50-mark in this international window if he features in all three games.

Retaining his place is Liverpool’s Conor Bradley. The teenager made his international debut as a second half substitute in May’s 3-0 win over Malta.

Striker Liam Boyce misses this international window for family reasons while striker Kyle Lafferty, of Αnorthosis Famagusta FC, is not included in the panel this occasion.

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