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Monday 08 Apr 2024
Oxtoby to miss Bosnia game due to illness

Northern Ireland senior women’s team manager Tanya Oxtoby has fallen ill from a virus which has affected a small number of the Northern Ireland squad over the past week.

It means Oxtoby is unable to travel to Zenica for Northern Ireland’s Women’s Euro qualifier against Bosnia and Herzegovina tomorrow (9 April).

Instead the team will be led by Stuart McLaren, who has been the main coach of the squad during the current international window.

In the run-up to the game against Malta on Friday a handful of Northern Ireland players and staff fell ill.

Angela Platt, the Irish FA’s Director of Women’s Football, revealed: “The senior women’s group have had a small number of incidents of sickness (vomiting and diarrhoea) during the past week in camp, impacting a small number of staff and players.

“This has been managed by our medical team in camp to try to minimise any further impact across the squad and staff team. The steps taken included isolation of anyone symptomatic or who had potential contact with anyone symptomatic and also minimising any further contact through the staff and playing group.

“Unfortunately Tanya became very unwell on Saturday evening in Dublin before our travel to Bosnia on Sunday morning and the decision was taken for her to remain in Dublin and reassess how she was for potential to travel at a later time.

“She is still too unwell to travel at this stage and will not be leading the team against Bosnia tomorrow. The team will instead be led by Stuart McLaren.”

McLaren was drafted in by Oxtoby to coach the team this month. The pair previously worked together when the Scottish/Australian coach was interim manager of the Scotland senior women’s team in 2021 and Oxtoby was his assistant.

Prior to that McLaren managed Brisbane Strikers in Australia across two spells (2003-2004 and 2008-2010) and he was assistant manager at North Queensland Fury (2010-2011).

Born in Glasgow, he returned to the UK in 2011 to become head coach at Loughborough University before being appointed manager of Stirling Albion in 2014.

He stayed with Stirling for a couple of years before taking up the position of head coach with Scotland’s U16 team (2018-2022). During that period he was also Scotland Women’s interim boss.

The 48-year-old's most recent coaching role was as manager of Celtic’s Under-18 team (2022-23). He left that role back in December.

During his player career, between 1994 and 2008, he was a central defender or central midfielder. His clubs included Wollongong Wolves, Stirling Albion, Brisbane Strikers, Queensland Roar and Perth Glory. He was capped by Australia at U20 level.

McLaren is being supported in Bosnia by the Irish FA’s Girls’ Elite Youth Academy Manager, Danielle McDowell Tuffey, and goalkeeping coach Roy Carroll.

Northern Ireland, who drew 0-0 with Malta in Belfast on Friday, are set to play their second game in League B Group 3 of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers at the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Training Centre in Zenica at 3.30pm CET (2.30pm BST) tomorrow.