Kyle Lafferty: Rangers striker returns to Northern Ireland squad

Kyle Lafferty is back in the Northern Ireland squad
Kyle Lafferty is back in the Northern Ireland squad

Kyle Lafferty has been included in the Northern Ireland squad for the forthcoming games against the Republic of Ireland and Austria.

The Rangers striker withdrew from the last international squad in October, which led to the Irish FA invoking FIFA's five day rule ruling him out of his next club game.

Questions had been raised over Lafferty's long-term international future following the incident, but it seems and issues between the player and manager Michael O'Neill have now been resolved after the forward apologised “an error of judgement”.

"I've had a good conversation with Kyle and the senior players. We are all happy he is back in the squad," said O'Neill.

O'Neill has also included three stars from the Under-21 side, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2019 Euros after an impressive campaign.

Making the step up are Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard, Queen’s Park Rangers winger Paul Smyth and Blackpool midfielder Jordan Thompson. All have previously featured for the senior team in international friendlies.

U21s captain Liam Donnelly (Motherwell) was also due to join the senior panel, however he is currently undergoing treatment on an injury and is therefore not available.

Returning to the fold for the friendly against the Republic in Dublin next Thursday (15 November) and the UEFA Nations League game against Austria at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Sunday 18 November is Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn, who missed the previous two games through injury.

Northern Ireland are bottom of their Nations League group, and could be relegated to the second tier.

"We'll treat the upcoming games as the double headers we will get next year in the Euro 2020 qualifiers," O'Neill added.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Norwich City), Trevor Carson (Motherwell), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United), Conor Hazard (Celtic).

Defenders: Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (Glasgow Rangers), Jonathan Evans (Leicester City), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough), Jamal Lewis (Norwich City), Michael Smith (Hearts), Tom Flanagan (Sunderland).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), George Saville (Middlesbrough, loan), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), Gavin Whyte (Oxford United), Jordan Thompson (Blackpool).

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers), Jamie Ward (Charlton Athletic, loan), Liam Boyce (Burton Albion), Paul Smyth (Queens Park Rangers), Kyle Vassell (Rotherham United).