Northern Ireland senior men’s team manager Ian Baraclough has confirmed five players named in his original squad will not be making the trip to Switzerland and Bulgaria this month due to injury.
Dundee United goalkeeper Trevor Carson, Heart of Midlothian defender Michael Smith, Preston North End midfielder Alistair McCann, Oxford United winger Gavin Whyte and Blackpool striker Shayne Lavery have all withdrawn from the 26-strong panel for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers in Geneva and Sofia respectively.
The Northern Ireland boss said: “We’ve dealt with injuries coming into a number of previous camps and, unfortunately, this one is no different.
“But this is a resolute group that has come together through adversity and I have no doubt they will do it again.
“We are still waiting for a few players to join us and we look forward to a few days training in Belfast before we fly out to Switzerland.”
Baraclough has called up Liverpool goalkeeper Liam Hughes, Leyton Orient striker Paul Smyth, Sunderland midfielder Carl Winchester and Morecambe defender Ryan McLaughlin as replacements.
The call-up for Winchester, who played for Northern Ireland at all underage levels, comes more than a decade after he earned his one senior cap to date – as a substitute against Wales in May 2011.
Baraclough’s boys are set to face the Swiss in European Qualifying Group C at Stade de Geneve on Saturday (9 October) and the Bulgarians in the Natsionalen Stadion Vasil Levski next Tuesday (12 October).