Experienced defender Jonny Evans will be travelling to Luxembourg with the Northern Ireland squad later this week.
His surprise inclusion comes after he came on as a second half substitute for his club Leicester City in their 2-1 Premier League win over Brentford yesterday.
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough revealed today that Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers had been in touch prior to the game at the King Power Stadium to say Evans would be taking part – and asked if the defender could travel to Luxembourg.
Baraclough said Leicester are surprised Evans is back in action so soon. He was not expected to play again until next month after having surgery to fix a hamstring injury picked up while playing for his club in December. However, he is already back in full time training and keen to get out on the pitch.
The Northern Ireland boss explained Evans will only be available for the away friendly against Luxembourg this Friday (25 March) and will not be in the panel for the home friendly against Hungary next Tuesday (29 March).
He further revealed the defender, who has won 93 caps for his country to date, was delighted to be given the opportunity to join up with the Northern Ireland squad. “He is still desperate to play for his country,” he insisted.
Baraclough said the squad are in good spirits ahead of the upcoming games and welcomed the fact that around 200 fans will be travelling to Luxembourg to cheer the team on.
The Northern Ireland senior men’s team manager also provided an update on the fitness of Middlesbrough defender/midfielder Paddy McNair, who limped out of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Chelsea at the Riverside Stadium.
“He has a bit of bruising (to his left ankle). His movement is OK. We will make a call on him later in the week,” he said.
With Evans’ inclusion Baraclough now has a 26-strong panel to choose from for the Luxembourg match.
He admitted he has a bit of a selection headache when it comes to strikers with Josh Magennis, Shayne Lavery, Dion Charles and Gavin Whyte all in fine form at present with their respective clubs.