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Friday 29 Mar 2024
Senior women’s squad for upcoming Euro qualifiers revealed

Northern Ireland senior women’s team boss Tanya Oxtoby has included a couple of notable returnees in her squad for the opening games in the league phase of qualifiers for UEFA Women’s Euro 2025.

Back in the panel for the games against Malta and Bosnia and Herzegovina next month is Reading Women goalkeeper Jackie Burns, who has not appeared for Northern Ireland since November 2022 when she played against Italy in a friendly.

Burns, who has 45 caps for her country, has been back in her club’s matchday squad in the FA Women’s Championship recently after recovering from achilles and shoulder injuries which kept her out of action last year.

Prior to her injuries, the 27-year-old had firmly established herself as Northern Ireland’s number one. She appeared in all of Northern Ireland’s matches at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

Returning to the Northern Ireland set-up after a much longer absence is Burnley Women midfielder Brenna McPartlan (24).

McPartlan has previously played once for Northern Ireland’s senior women’s team. As a teenager she was a substitute in an international friendly with Wales in April 2017. She also previously starred for her country at U17 and U19 level.

The midfielder played at Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and Manchester City at youth level before moving to the United States where she played in two university teams, South Alabama Jaguars (2018 to 2019) and Louisiana State Tigers (2021 to 2022).

She was then with Sunderland Women for a year before signing for Burnley this season. The Clarets play in the Northern Premier Division of the FA Women's National League.

Burns and McPartlan are among six changes to the squad that successfully navigated Nations League play-off matches against Montenegro last month.

Birmingham City Women defender Rebecca Holloway, who missed February’s play-off games due to injury, is back in the panel.

Cliftonville Ladies defender Abbie Magee and Crusaders Strikers defender Rachel McLaren have been included as well after missing out on the games against Montenegro.

Striker Casey Howe is back, too. Howe, who signed for Athlone Town Ladies at the start of this year after switching from fellow League of Ireland Women’s Premier Division side Sligo Rovers Women, was last in the senior international squad during Kenny Shiels’ tenure.

The four teams in League B Group 3 - Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland and Malta - are set to face each other home and away across six matchdays between April and July.

Northern Ireland’s first group game is against Malta on Friday 5 April at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (7pm kick-off).

And then they will play Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday 9 April at the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Training Centre in Zenica (3.30pm start CET).

Defender Rachel Dugdale and goalkeeper Lauren Perry, who were recalled for last month’s UEFA Women’s Nations League play-off matches against Montenegro, have retained their places in the squad.

However, Durham Women defender and Northern Ireland centurion Sarah McFadden is not available for the games against the Maltese and the Bosnians. She is recovering from an operation on a long-standing injury.

Also not available for the upcoming international window is Blackburn Rovers Women striker Danielle Maxwell.

Meanwhile, London City Lionesses midfielder Connie Scofield (24) has also been called up to the Northern Ireland squad for the first time, however she is awaiting clearance from FIFA before being declared eligible for the two games.

As it stands senior women’s team manager Oxtoby has a 22-strong panel at her disposal for the two matches. The squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Jackie Burns (Reading Women), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers), Lauren Perry (Montrose Women).

Defenders - Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women), Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic Women), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women), Demi Vance (Glentoran Women), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Dugdale (Reading Women), Rachel McLaren (Crusaders Strikers).

Midfielders - Joely Andrews, Nadene Caldwell and Chloe McCarron (all Glentoran Women), Megan Bell (Hearts Women, on loan from Rangers Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Brenna McPartlan (Burnley Women).

Forwards: Kerry Beattie (Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Aston Villa Women), Lauren Wade (Reading Women), Keri Halliday (Linfield Women), Casey Howe (Athlone Town Ladies), Caragh Hamilton (Lewes Women).