Paterson left out of squad

05 November 2012 01:48

Michael O'Neill has named a 24-man squad for Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, with Burnley striker Martin Paterson a notable absentee.

O'Neill's men are on a high after securing a 1-1 draw in Portugal last month against all odds but must now follow up with a positive result at Windsor Park on November 14.

O'Neill has named six players capable of playing as forwards but Paterson is not among them.

He played, and scored, for his club at the weekend, but pulled out of the Portugal squad citing "ongoing fitness issues" to raise question marks over his international future.

There has been no signal yet that Paterson plans to retire from Northern Ireland duty, but with a poor injury record in recent years and a new manager in the shape of Sean Dyche to impress at Turf Moor, he appears to be out of consideration at present.

Kyle Lafferty, currently with Swiss side FC Sion, is O'Neill's first-choice centre forward, with support coming from the likes of record scorer David Healy, Rangers' Dean Shiels and Walsall's Will Grigg.

Jamie Ward of Derby and Andy Little of Rangers can also play up front but have been used in midfield by their country.

Northern Ireland's draw in Porto was particularly impressive given the number of first-choice players unavailable to O'Neill, and many of those are back for the visit of Azerbaijan.

West Brom centre-half Gareth McAuley is back following suspension, while Chris Brunt, Grant McCann and Shane Ferguson all return from injury.

Northern Ireland squad for World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan, Windsor Park on November 14: R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), M McGovern (Falkirk), A Hughes (Fulham), R McGivern (Man City, on loan at Hibernian), J Evans (Man Utd), C Cathcart (Blackpool), G McAuley ( West Brom), A Bruce (Hull), C Baird (Fulham), S Davis (capt, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Evans (Hull), N McGinn (Aberdeen), P McCourt (Celtic), C Brunt (West Brom), S Ferguson (Newcastle), G McCann (Peterborough), D Healy (Bury), D Shiels (Rangers), K Lafferty (Sion), W Grigg (Walsall), J Ward (Derby), A Little (Rangers).

Source: PA