Northern Ireland expands squad to 27 for upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying matches
Northern Ireland manager, Michael O'Neill, is preparing for the forthcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers against Denmark and Kazakhstan with a bolstered squad of 27 players.
This expansion from the customary 24-player team is in recognition of strong performances during recent training camps and to provide additional cover for players whose domestic commitments extend into next week.
The manager has brought in three new players for the Group H qualifiers. These include Lee Bonis from Larne, Callum Marshall from West Ham United, and Aaron Donnelly from Nottingham Forest.
Bonis, who played a pivotal role in securing Larne's first Irish League title this season, and Marshall, an impactful player in West Ham's U18 FA Youth Cup-winning side, both caught O'Neill's attention with their offensive prowess during training. Donnelly also showed promise during these sessions, after a solid performance on loan at Port Vale.
The Northern Ireland manager has also welcomed back players such as Leicester City's Jonny Evans, Preston North End's Alistair McCann, and Blackpool's Shayne Lavery, who all missed the initial Euro 2024 qualifiers due to injury.
Glentoran's Conor McMenamin, who had to withdraw from the last squad because of a lingering calf injury, is now fit to rejoin the team.
Newcomers from the March qualifiers, Isaac Price of Everton and Sean Goss, who is currently without a club after leaving Motherwell, have secured their places in the squad again. Bolton Wanderers' defender Eoin Toal was scheduled to return, but an ankle problem has forced him to withdraw.
Other returnees include midfielder Ethan Galbraith, who recently departed Manchester United, and Portsmouth winger Paddy Lane, who did not participate in the earlier matches this year.
On the other hand, Cameron McGeehan, who made his senior debut in March, was not selected for this squad.
The squad has been shaped by a substantial injury list. Midfielders Steven Davis, Corry Evans, Stuart Dallas, and Shane Ferguson, along with strikers Josh Magennis, Conor Washington, and Liam Boyce, as well as defender Daniel Ballard, are all currently unavailable.
The Northern Ireland squad will face Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday, June 16, followed by Kazakhstan in Belfast on Monday, June 19.
Northern Ireland squad for UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers against Denmark (a) and Kazakhstan (h):
Goalkeepers – Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Conor Hazard (Celtic), Luke Southwood (Reading).
Defenders – Jonny Evans (Leicester City), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jamal Lewis (Newcastle United), Ciaron Brown (Oxford United), Conor Bradley (Liverpool), Trai Hume (Sunderland), Eoin Toal (Bolton Wanderers), Aaron Donnelly (Nottingham Forest).
Midfielders – Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), George Saville (Millwall), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City), Alistair McCann (Preston North End), Shea Charles (Manchester City), Paddy Lane (Portsmouth), Ethan Galbraith (unattached), Isaac Price (Everton), Sean Goss (unattached).
Forwards – Gavin Whyte (unattached), Shayne Lavery (Blackpool), Dion Charles (Bolton Wanderers), Conor McMenamin (Glentoran), Matthew Kennedy (Aberdeen), Dale Taylor (Nottingham Forest), Lee Bonis (Larne), Callum Marshall (West Ham United).