Teenage Linfield Women striker Keri Halliday and Crusaders Strikers goalkeeper Maddy Harvey-Clifford are the two new faces in Tanya Oxtoby’s squad for the upcoming UEFA Women’s Nations League double header.
It’s a first senior call-up for 18-year-old Halliday, who has previously impressed for her country at U19 and U17 level.
Harvey-Clifford has been in and around the senior squad for a few years, however it’s the first time the 21-year-old keeper has been called up by Oxtoby since she became the senior women’s team boss in September. Harvey-Clifford has yet to earn her first cap at senior level.
Oxtoby has chosen a 23-strong squad for the League B Group 1 match away to Albania Women on Friday 1 December and the encounter with the Republic of Ireland at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Tuesday 5 December.
The talismanic Rachel Furness is out of both games after injuring her hamstring while playing for Bristol City Women in the FA Women’s Super League earlier this month.
Bristol boss Lauren Smith said Furness, who has scored a record 38 goals in 95 appearances for her country, will likely be out of action for a month.
Also not included in the Northern Ireland squad this time are Cliftonville Ladies forward Caitlin McGuinness and Mid Ulster Ladies goalkeeper Lilie Woods.
All the other players named in the panel, apart from Halliday and Harvey-Clifford, were in the squad for last month’s double header against Hungary.
Cliftonville’s Danielle Maxwell, a late call-up in October to replace club mate and fellow striker Kirsty McGuinness, has retained her place in the panel after scoring her first senior international goal last time out. Kirsty McGuinness, who withdrew last month for personal reasons, has not returned to the squad.
The game against the Albanians is due to be staged at the National Stadium in Tirana next Friday. The game will have a 4pm kick-off UK time.
And the following Tuesday the Nations League match between Northern Ireland and the Republic is scheduled to kick off at 6pm.
In September Northern Ireland lost their first ever match in the UEFA Women’s Nations League – 3-0 to the Republic in Dublin – before bouncing back to defeat Albania Women 1-0 at home. Last month they lost to Hungary away (3-2) and drew 1-1 with them at home.
Hungary are second in the League B Group 1 table with five points from four games, while Northern Ireland are third with four points from four. Albania are propping up the table with one point. The Republic have already won the group thanks to a 100% record to date.
The squad for the two games in December is as follows:
Goalkeepers - Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers Women), Rachael Norney (Liverpool Feds), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers).
Defenders - Abbie Magee and Kelsie Burrows (both Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville, USA), Ellie Mason (Birminghbam City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic Women), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women), Demi Vance (Glentoran Women).
Midfielders - Joely Andrews, Nadene Caldwell and Chloe McCarron (all Glentoran Women), Megan Bell (Rangers Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Caragh Hamilton (Lewes Women).
Forwards: Kerry Beattie and Emily Wilson (both Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Aston Villa Women), Lauren Wade (Reading Women), Danielle Maxwell (Cliftonville Ladies), Keri Halliday (Linfield Women).