Northern Ireland’s Senior Women are preparing to play four international matches in Turkey over a seven-day period.
They are taking part in an eight-team tournament, the Alanya Gold City Women’s Cup, and their first game is on Wednesday (27 February) against Jordan at the Evrenseki Stadium in Side, with a 1530 kick-off (local time).
Game two is on Friday (1 March) against France B at Gold City in Alanya (1730) followed by a third and final group game on Sunday (3 March) against Kazakhstan (1530) at Hane in Side.
Their final game in the tournament will be a placement match next Tuesday (5 March) at a venue TBC. In that game they will come up against a side from the other group in the tournament, and it features Romania, India, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The 22-strong Northern Ireland squad flew out to Turkey earlier today and it features some new faces, including Everton Ladies goalkeeper Becky Flaherty and 16-year-old Linfield Ladies midfielder Caitlin McGuinness, younger sister of established Northern Ireland striker Kirsty McGuinness, who is unavailable.
And also new to the panel is Derry City Ladies forward Gemma McGuinness, while defender Rachel Newborough returns to the fold after missing a couple of World Cup qualifiers following her relocation to America, where she is attending university.
Northern Ireland senior women’s boss Alfie Wylie is using the games as early preparation for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifying campaign, which gets under way in August with a tie against Norway. Northern Ireland will also face Wales, Belarus and Faroe Islands in Group C of the European qualifiers.
The manager pointed out: “This is an opportunity for the squad to play games and to measure themselves against other countries. We have a tough Euros qualifying group, however I am optimistic that we will compete well. We have a good mix of experienced players and some excellent young talent.
“We are facing hard games in Turkey. Jordan have won their last seven matches, and a lot of money has been invested in the women’s game in Jordan. France B will no doubt be a superb outfit, while Kazakhstan are close to us in the rankings and will be no pushovers.”
Northern Ireland Women squad for Alanya Gold City Women’s Cup:
Goalkeepers – Jacqueline Burns (Carson Newman University), Becky Flaherty (Everton Ladies).
Defenders – Rachel Newborough (Boston University), Ashley Hutton (Linfield Ladies), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Natalie Johnson (Leicester City Women), Freya Holdaway (Crystal Palace Ladies), Jessica Foy (Glentoran Women), Demi Vance (Glentoran Women), Emma McMaster (Cliftonville Ladies).
Midfielders – Sarah McFadden (Durham Ladies), Rachel Furness (Reading Ladies), Ciara Sherwood (Crystal Palace Ladies), Kerry Montgomery (Motherwell), Megan Bell (Linfield Ladies), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Caitlin McGuinness (Linfield Ladies).
Forwards – Simone Magill (Everton Ladies), Gemma McGuinness (Derry City Ladies), Lauren Wade (TBA), Louise McDaniel (Linfield Ladies), Rebecca McKenna (Linfield Ladies).