Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Kenny Shiels today named a 23-strong squad for this month’s international challenge match against England.
The friendly against the Lionesses at St George’s Park is set to be staged at the end of a training camp which will help Shiels’ side prepare for the Women’s Euro 2022 play-offs in April.
His latest squad shows seven changes from the panel chosen for the Euro qualifiers against Belarus and Faroe Islands in Belfast late last year.
Among those returning to the fold is Everton Women striker Simone Magill, who was injured as the senior women won both of those matches to make history by securing a play-off place for a major tournament for the first time.
Above: Striker Simone Magill returns to the squad
Linfield Ladies midfielder Rebecca McKenna is also back in the panel along with Linfield Ladies striker Casey Howe, who has not featured in the senior group since the Pinatar Cup in early 2020.
Birmingham City Women defender Rebecca Holloway, who was last in the squad for the away Euro qualifier against Wales in September 2019, returns as well along with midfielder Louise McDaniel, who has recently returned to Northern Ireland after a spell with Hearts Women in Scotland. She was last involved in the senior set-up at a training camp in October 2019.
And Shiels’ latest squad features two uncapped players – Northern Ireland Women’s Under-19 goalkeeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers) and WU17 defender Ella Haughey (Lisburn Rangers).
The players will be put through their paces at the training camp in Belfast next week before travelling across the Irish Sea for the friendly.
The challenge match against the Lionesses is due to be staged behind closed doors at St George’s Park, the FA’s National Football Centre, on 23 February (12.30pm kick-off).
England have named a strong squad for the game at the Staffordshire complex which will be the first meeting between the two countries since 2008.
Northern Ireland players unavailable for selection this time include strikers and sisters Kirsty McGuinness and Caitlin McGuinness, who both scored against the Faroe Islands in December, and Rangers Women defender/midfielder Demi Vance, who was injured in the home match against Belarus back in November and replaced by Rebecca McKenna for the Faroes game at the start of December.
And Rangers Women midfielder Megan Bell, Glentoran Women defender Emma McMaster and Glentoran Women attacking midfielder Caragh Hamilton are still on the road back to fitness after suffering significant injuries.
Four other players involved in the last squad - Forfar Farmington goalkeeper Lauren Perry and Glentoran Women trio Joely Andrews, Danielle Maxwell and Kerry Beattie -have missed out this time.
The Northern Ireland senior women’s squad for the training camp and the friendly against England Women is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (Glentoran Women), Becky Flaherty (Sheffield United Women), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers).
Defenders: Ashley Hutton, Kelsie Burrows and Abbie Magee (all Linfield Ladies), Toni-Leigh Finnegan (Cliftonville Ladies), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Ella Haughey (Lisburn Rangers), Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women).
Midfielders: Nadene Caldwell, Samantha Kelly (both Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Liverpool Ladies), Chloe McCarron (Birmingham City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Ladies), Ciara Watling (Charlton Athletic Women), Rebecca McKenna (Linfield Ladies), Louise McDaniel (Unattached).
Forwards: Simone Magill (Everton Women), Lauren Wade (Unattached), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers), Casey Howe (Linfield Ladies).