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Monday 06 Mar 2023
Michael O'Neill names Northern Ireland squad for opening Euro qualifiers

Michael O’Neill has chosen a 26-strong squad for his first set of fixtures since returning to the role of Northern Ireland manager.

O’Neill, who was appointed as boss for a second spell back in December, has called up four new faces for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers against San Marino (away) and Finland (home) later this month. The newcomers are Isaac Price, Eoin Toal, Sean Goss and Cameron McGeehan.

Everton midfielder Price (19) steps up to the senior panel after featuring for the Northern Ireland U17, U19 and U21 teams in recent years.


A regular with the U21s at Goodison Park, Price made his Premier League debut for the Toffees last season and has also appeared for the first team in the FA Cup.

Bolton Wanderers defender Toal has received his first senior call-up after switching from Derry City to the EFL League One side last summer. He previously played for Northern Ireland at U17 and U19 level and extensively for the U21s. And the 24-year-old is a former U21s captain.

Motherwell midfielder Goss (27) was called up to the senior squad in 2018 during Michael O’Neill’s first stint as manager, however injury scuppered his call-up.

Goss, who was on Manchester United’s books as a youth, previously played at senior club level for Queens Park Rangers, Rangers (loan), St Johnstone (loan) and Shrewsbury Town before joining Motherwell in 2021.

Midfielder McGeehan has represented Northern Ireland at U17, U19 and U21 level. He was also called up to the senior squad in 2018 but had to withdraw due to injury.

The 27-year-old is currently playing for Belgian First Division A club KV Oostende. He previously starred for Norwich City, Luton Town and Barnsley, and also had loan spells at Luton, Cambridge United, Scunthorpe United and Portsmouth, before switching to Belgium’s top flight in August 2020 after leaving Barnsley.

O’Neill has also chosen two players who have not featured in the squad for some time.

Striker Dale Taylor (below), who is on loan at EFL League One outfit Burton Albion from Premiership side Nottingham Forest, has received a fresh call-up. The 19-year-old was last in the senior squad in November 2021 when he earned his single cap to date in a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

And Aberdeen winger Matthew Kennedy returns to the senior international set-up after an absence of a couple of years. He won the last of his three caps against Bulgaria in a World Cup qualifier in March 2021.

O’Neill will be without the injured midfield quartet of Steven Davis, Corry Evans, Stuart Dallas and Alistair McCann for the San Marino match on Thursday 23 March and the Finland game on Sunday 26 March.

However, defensive stalwart Jonny Evans has been included in the panel despite having injury problems in recent months, and experienced defender Craig Cathcart is back after missing a handful of international matches last year.

Blackpool striker Shayne Lavery is not available due to injury, however experienced Rotherham United striker Conor Washington has returned to the fold after missing most of the international matches in 2022, while also making a return is Sunderland defender Daniel Ballard, who did not play in the final two games of last year’s Nations League campaign due to injury.

Missing out this time are Shrewsbury Town defender Tom Flanagan, Paddy Lane (Portsmouth), Kofi Balmer (Crystal Palace) and Kyle Lafferty (Linfield), all of whom were included in the previous squad.