Above: Northern Ireland Women's U17 midfielder Rhyleigh Marks in action against Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-17 team will prepare for Qualifying Round 2 in their UEFA Women's European Championship competition by playing two friendlies against Everton Women’s teams next month.
The games against Everton for the WU17s, who are due to compete in Euro qualifiers in March, will be the competitive element of a training camp in England from 6 to 11 February.
Northern Ireland WU17s boss Alfie Wylie has chosen a 24-strong squad for the camp and the friendlies on 9 and 11 February against Everton teams that will be a mix of their WU17s and WU19s.
There are six new faces in the panel from the squad that took part in stage one of the WU17 Euro 2022 qualifiers in Serbia back in the autumn.
Among the newcomers are two players from West Bromwich Albion Women, goalkeeper Kaicee Griffin and forward Olivia Stubbs, and Birmingham City Women defender Mikayla Wildgoose.
Also in the squad for the first time are Antrim Rovers forward Kascie Weir, Carnmoney Ladies defender Tara Gilmore and her club team-mate Grace Montgomery, a midfielder. Montgomery was named in the squad for last year’s trip to Serbia but was unable to travel due to illness.
As part of a new Nations League-style qualifying format the WU17s are in League B of their current Euro competition where they will be aiming to gain promotion to League A in Qualifying Round 1 of the 2022-23 edition.
The WU17s will be taking on Luxembourg, Faroe Islands and hosts Israel in March. The three League B Group 1 matches are scheduled for 8-17 March (venues TBC).
Wylie revealed his 20 players for the trip to Israel will be chosen from the 24 taking part in the training camp in England.
He said he expected the games against Everton to be tough tests for his squad, pointing out the Liverpool-based club have an excellent academy set-up and a strong group of players.
The WU17s boss further said: “We have some really exciting young players in our ranks and I believe quite a few of them could be senior internationals of the future, which is testament to our performance pathway. I am looking forward to seeing how they do against top quality opposition.”
The squad for the upcoming training camp in England is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Kaicee Griffin (West Bromwich Albion Women), Erin McAllister (Linfield Ladies).
Defenders: Abi Sweetlove and Sarah Tweedie (both Linfield Ladies), Niamh Coyle and Claragh Quigg (both Sion Swifts Ladies), Tara Gilmore (Carnmoney Ladies), Cerys Madden (Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Magee (Glentoran Women), Mikayla Wildgoose (Birmingham City Women).
Midfielders: Naomi McLaughlin and Aoibhe O’Neill (both Sion Swifts Ladies), Lucy Johnston and Rhyleigh Marks (both Linfield Ladies), Aimee Kerr and Grace Montgomery (both Carnmoney Ladies).
Forwards: Sophie Gargan, Keri Halliday and Emily Reid (all Linfield Ladies), Rachael McIntyre (Glentoran Women), Tara Reilly (Cliftonville Ladies), Chelsea Scott (Sion Swifts Ladies), Olivia Stubbs (WBA Women), Kascie Weir (Antrim Rovers).