Q Radio Sport
Charlton Athletic striker Conor Washington is out of the Northern Ireland squad for the triple header against Italy, USA and Bulgaria due to injury.
Washington, who picked up a knock when playing for Charlton against AFC Wimbledon in EFL League One on Saturday, has been replaced in the panel by in-form Linfield striker Shayne Lavery.
Former Everton striker Lavery, who has previously earned five caps for his country, has scored 19 times for the Blues in the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership this season, including the winner against Crusaders at the weekend.
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has also added young Liverpool goalkeeper Liam Hughes to what is now a 27-strong panel for the three games.
🎥 The World Cup qualifying countdown is on - Northern Ireland opener v Italy on Thursday in Parma. Here's the big cheese Ian Baraclough talking about calling up @OfficialBlues striker Shayne Lavery and @LFC keeper Liam Hughes: #GAWA #LFC pic.twitter.com/dfBk89P5Wt— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) March 22, 2021
Hughes steps up from the U21s, who are having a training camp in Belfast this week. It’s a first senior call-up for the 19-year-old stopper, who played for Lisburn Youth, Portadown, Dungannon Swifts and Celtic before joining Jurgen Klopp’s Reds in January. He has previously played for Northern Ireland at U17 and U21 level.
Northern Ireland face the Italians in Parma in their first FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier this Thursday followed by a home friendly against USA on Sunday and a second European Group C World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in Belfast next Wednesday (31 March).
Leaders Linfield, without Lavery, are away to Ballymena in the Danske Bank Premiership on Tuesday night.
Second-placed Coleraine go to Glenavon, Warrenpoint welcome Glentoran, Carrick face Portadown and Dungannon host Crusaders.
Here's a reminder of the weekend action, the standings and next up:
Here's how they stand in @DanskeBank_UK Premiership after Saturday success for @Glentoran @ColeraineFC and @Portadownfc - they go again with five fixtures on Tuesday night.— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) March 20, 2021