Skipper Steven Davis and vice-captain Jonny Evans are among eight players recalled to the Northern Ireland squad as boss Ian Baraclough opts for experience for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Baraclough’s side travel to Lithuania (September 2) followed by a home game against Switzerland (September 8), with a friendly against Estonia in Tallinn (September 5) scheduled between the two Group C fixtures.
The 50-year-old has named a much-changed squad from the one that beat Malta and narrowly lost to Ukraine earlier in the summer.
Rangers midfielder Davis – Northern Ireland’s most capped player – is back among the 25-man group along with Leicester defender Evans, despite his club boss Brendan Rodgers having said last week that the 33-year-old was “not close” to returning from a foot injury.
Dundee United goalkeeper Trevor Carson, Hearts defender Michael Smith and Newcastle left-back Jamal Lewis are also back in the fold, along with Sunderland midfielder Corry Evans and Charlton striker Conor Washington.
Blackpool forward Shayne Lavery also gets the nod after an impressive start to the Championship campaign with promoted Blackpool, as does Accrington striker Dion Charles.
Hearts’ Liam Boyce misses out for family reasons while there is no place for fellow striker Kyle Lafferty of Anorthosis Famagusta.
Northern Ireland squad: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Sheff Wed, loan), Trevor Carson (Dundee Utd), Conor Hazard (Celtic); Jonny Evans (Leicester), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Shane Ferguson (Rotherham), Michael Smith (Hearts), Jamal Lewis (Newcastle), Daniel Ballard (Millwall, loan), Ciaron Brown (Cardiff); Steven Davis (Rangers), Corry Evans (Sunderland), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), George Saville (Millwall), Jordan Thompson (Stoke), Ali McCann (St Johnstone), Gavin Whyte (Oxford, loan), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), Jordan Jones (Wigan), Conor Bradley (Liverpool); Josh Magennis (Hull), Conor Washington (Charlton), Shayne Lavery (Blackpool), Dion Charles (Accrington).
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