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Thursday 18 Nov 2021
Northern Ireland senior women's squad named for World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia

Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Kenny Shiels has made a couple of changes to his squad for this month’s home and away FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifiers against North Macedonia.

Shiels’ side are away to the Macedonians first - on Thursday 25 November - with the game being staged at the Football Federation of North Macedonia Training Centre in Skopje.

And then it’s back home for the second meeting. That encounter is on Monday 29 November at Seaview and all tickets for the game have already been sold.

The Northern Ireland senior women’s team boss has gone with his usual blend of youth and experience in his 23-strong panel for the matches in Skopje and Belfast.

Northern Ireland are strong favourites to win home and away against the Macedonians, however Shiels and his players will not be taking anything for granted as the Macedonians defeated Latvia 4-1 away last month – and that was a similar scoreline to Northern Ireland’s home success against the Latvians back in September.

Birmingham City Women defender Rebecca Holloway, who missed last month’s double header through injury, returns to the fold.

And Crusaders Strikers defender Rachel McLaren, who was Holloway’s replacement in October, retains her place in the squad.

Also back in the panel is Cliftonville Ladies striker Caitlin McGuinness, who missed out last month.

Missing out this time are Southampton Women defender Laura Rafferty and Crusaders Strikers striker Emily Wilson, who is injured.

Cliftonville Ladies defender Toni-Leigh Finnegan is not available once again due to injury, while still recovering from long term injuries are Rangers Women midfielder Megan Bell and Linfield Ladies pair Ashley Hutton and Abbie Magee.

Northern Ireland currently lie third behind England and Austria in European Qualifying Group D. They have seven points from four qualifiers to date. North Macedonia are in fourth place in the six-team group with three points from four matches.

The girls in green and white began their quest for a place at the Women’s World Cup in 2023 – it is being hosted by Australia and New Zealand – with a 4-0 win over Luxembourg in Larne followed by a 4-0 victory over Latvia in Belfast back in September.

Last month they were defeated 4-0 by the group’s top seeds, England, at Wembley and then drew 2-2 with Austria at home.

The Northern Ireland Women squad for the World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia is:

Goalkeepers – Jackie Burns (Lee University/Glentoran Women), Becky Flaherty (Huddersfield Town Women), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers).

Defenders – Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes Women), Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville Ladies), Demi Vance (Rangers Women), Rachel McLaren (Crusaders Strikers).

Midfielders – Marissa Callaghan and Louise McDaniel (both Cliftonville Ladies), Nadene Caldwell, Chloe McCarron, Caragh Hamilton and Joely Andrews (all Glentoran Women), Rachel Furness (Liverpool Women), Ciara Watling (Southampton Women).

Forwards – Kerry Beattie and Lauren Wade (both Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Everton Women), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies).