The interim Northern Ireland senior women’s team coaching staff, led by interim manager Andy Waterworth, have selected a 23-strong squad for next week’s friendly against Wales in Cardiff.
Returning after missing the 1-0 friendly win over Italy back in November and FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifiers against Luxembourg and Latvia in September are attacking midfielder Rachel Furness, who is now with Bristol City Women, and Southampton Women defender Laura Rafferty.
Also back is Rangers Women midfielder Megan Bell, who missed last summer’s Women’s Euros and subsequent games due to injury. Her last appearance for the team was as a substitute in the Women’s World Cup qualifier against England last April.
Lewes Women midfielder Ellie Mason returns, too. Mason made her debut for Northern Ireland in the 3-1 win against Latvia in September but was not selected for the Italy game.
Reading Women goalkeeper Jackie Burns has had to withdraw from the squad due to injury, although this has enabled two young goalkeepers to join the panel. Lilie Woods (Mid-Ulster Ladies) last featured in the senior squad for the World Cup qualifiers in September, while Crusaders Strikers stopper Maddy Harvey-Clifford was part of the full-time training squad for the Euros last year but did not feature in any matchday squads in 2022.
Cliftonville Ladies quartet Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Louise McDaniel, Fi Morgan and Danielle Maxwell, who were all in the squad for the friendly international against Italy in Belfast, are on the standby list.
Waterworth, who is Head of Elite Player Development at the Irish Football Association, is acting as the interim manager of the senior women’s team following the departure of Kenny Shiels earlier this year.
Northern Ireland are set to face Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium next Thursday (6 April). Kick-off time is 7.15pm.
Former senior international players Aaron Hughes and Roy Carroll are also set to be involved next week. Hughes will be the interim senior coach, while Carroll is the interim goalkeeping coach.
Crusaders Strikers defender Julie Nelson is currently completing her rehabilitation from knee surgery but will join Waterworth’s interim coaching team for the friendly.
The Northern Ireland Women squad to face Wales Women is as follows:
Goalkeepers - Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers Women), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers), Lilie Woods (Mid Ulster Ladies).
Defenders - Kelsie Burrows and Abbie Magee (both Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville, USA), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna(Lewes Women), Demi Vance (Unattached), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women).
Midfielders - Nadene Caldwell, Joely Andrews, Chloe McCarron and Caragh Hamilton (all Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Bristol City Women), Megan Bell (Rangers Women), Ellie Mason (Lewes Women).
Forwards: Lauren Wade (Reading Women), Caitlin McGuinness and Kirsty McGuinness (both Cliftonville Ladies), Emily Wilson and Kerry Beattie (both Glentoran Women).