- Peacock-Farrell, Lane and Lyons ruled out
- Five others on sidelines as O’Neill calls up youngsters
- Smyth could return for Denmark clash
Northern Ireland are grappling with a string of setbacks as Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Paddy Lane, and Brad Lyons have been ruled out of the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Finland and Denmark.
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Under 21s promoted to ease injury crisis
Peacock-Farrell is sidelined with a knee injury, while Lane and Lyons are nursing calf issues. The team had already faced withdrawals from Jonny Evans and Paul Smyth earlier, and with Steven Davis, Corry Evans, and Stuart Dallas on long-term absences, the squad is significantly depleted.
In response to the growing injury list, Michael Forbes, Terry Devlin, Caolan Boyd-Munce, and Stephen McMullen have been called up to fill the void. McMullan, a Fleetwood Town goalkeeper who has trained with the squad, earns his first senior call-up after progressing from the U21s. West Ham defender Forbes and Portsmouth’s Terry Devlin, both promoted from the U21 squad, join St Mirren’s Boyd-Munce as replacements.
Despite the challenges, Manager Michael O’Neill is optimistic about the newcomers making a positive contribution. Rangers winger Ross McCausland was added to the squad on Tuesday following Smyth’s withdrawal, with hopes that Smyth might return for the Denmark game after receiving treatment at his club.
Reflecting on the situation, O’Neill acknowledged the inability to field Peacock-Farrell, Lane, and Lyons due to their recent injuries. He sees this as an opportunity for the new additions—Michael, Terry, and Caolan—to step up and contribute positively. O’Neill is aware of the impact on Tommy Wright’s U21 squad but emphasises the need to manage the injuries and hopes some players can return for subsequent fixtures.
With Peacock-Farrell absent, Plymouth’s Conor Hazard appears likely to start in goal for the upcoming match against Finland. The manager remains hopeful but faces strategic decisions to field a competitive team amid the challenges posed by the increasing injury count.
Northern Ireland go into the Finland match as underdogs. At the time of writing, bet365 have O’Neill’s side priced at 13/4 with hosts Finland at 13/4 and a draw 12/5. A number of young players have been called up to the senior squad and bettors need to assess how well they adjust to international football when looking at Northern Ireland’s chances heading towards the next World Cup and Euro 2028.
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