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Friday 19 Aug 2022
Shiels makes four changes to squad for Women’s World Cup qualifiers

Three players who missed out on selection for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 and one new face have been included in the Northern Ireland squad for next month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifiers.

Returning to the senior women’s team panel for the away games against Luxembourg and Latvia are Cliftonville Ladies defender Toni-Leigh Finnegan and Glentoran Women striker Kerry Beattie.

Both Finnegan and Beattie were included in the squad for the Euros warm-up game away to Belgium in June, however they failed to make the cut for the tournament.

And also in the 23-strong squad for the games in early September is uncapped Mid Ulster Ladies goalkeeper Lilie Woods, who was a member of the Euros training squad but was not selected for the final panel that travelled to England.

The new face in Kenny Shiels’ squad is midfielder Ellie Mason, who plays as a midfielder for Lewes Women in the FA Women’s Championship.

The 26-year-old, who was born in England, played for Gibraltar in a couple of friendlies earlier this year, however she has now switched her allegiance. She is eligible to play for Northern Ireland through her maternal grandfather who was born in Ballymena. 

Mason had spells with Watford (twice), Chelsea, Millwall Lionesses, Yeovil Town and London City Lionesses before signing for Lewes last summer.

Four players who were part of the squad at last month’s Euros are not included this time.

Linfield Ladies defender Ashley Hutton has retired from international duty, while Liverpool Women midfielder Rachel Furness has asked not to be included for personal reasons.

Aston Villa Women striker Simone Magill is a long-term absentee after damaging her knee in the opening group match at the tournament, while goalkeeper Becky Flaherty also misses out.

The senior women’s team are due to play Luxembourg on Friday 2 September at Stade Émile Mayrisch in Esch-sur-Alzette.

And then they will be taking on Latvia at the Daugava National Stadium in Riga on Friday 6 September.

Next month’s games will bring Northern Ireland’s FIFA World Cup 2023 qualification campaign in European Group D to a close.

England currently top the group following eight wins in eight games (24 points). Austria, in second place, have 19 points from the same number of games, while Northern Ireland lie third with 13 points from eight qualifiers.

Even if they win both of their remaining games, and Austria lose their final two matches, Northern Ireland cannot qualify for the finals in Australia and New Zealand because Austria have the superior head-to-head record against Shiels’ side.

Squad list for the qualifiers against Luxembourg and Latvia:

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (Reading Women), Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers Women), Lilie Woods (Mid Ulster Ladies).

Defenders: Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville Ladies), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes Women), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women), Demi Vance (unattached), Toni-Leigh Finnegan (Cliftonville Ladies).

Midfielders: Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran Women), Joely Andrews (Glentoran Women), Chloe McCarron (Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Louise McDaniel (Cliftonville Ladies), Ellie Mason (Lewes Women).

Forwards: Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonvillle Ladies), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Lauren Wade (Reading Women), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers), Kerry Beattie (Glentoran Women).