Leeds star Bailey Peacock-Farrell
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Crusaders midfielder Gavin Whyte are among the uncapped players in Northern Ireland’s 22-man squad for the away friendlies with Panama and Costa Rica.
Michael O’Neill has named four players that are yet to make their senior debuts in a group that is without captain Steven Davis, Kyle Lafferty and Jamie Ward.
Peacock-Farrell ended the campaign as Leeds’ number one and has been part of O’Neill’s groups previously without featuring, with Whyte, who is expected to move to an English club this summer, having graduated from the under-21s.
“We have watched Gavin Whyte for the last three years,” O’Neill said in quotes published on Northern Ireland’s Twitter feed.
“He’s on the verge of a move to England and we hope this inclusion helps him.
“Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been a work in process. He has taken his chance at Leeds. It’s important now to see him in the squad.”
West Brom’s Jonny Evans will captain the team in Davis’ absence and veteran defenders Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes and Craig Cathcart will also travel.
Davis is missing due to an injury that restricted him to just 32 minutes for Southampton in the season’s final three months, while Evans and McAuley’s club colleague Chris Brunt is still weighing up his international future.
Doncaster’s Luke McCullough, who was in the squad at Euro 2016, returns to the fold and Fulham loanee Oliver Norwood has been named despite the fact he will be hoping to be involved in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on the day the rest of the team fly out.
Young goalkeeper Conor Hazard, who is on the books at Celtic, is the other uncapped player in the squad.
Northern Ireland face Panama, who will be in England’s World Cup group, on May 30 before meeting Costa Rica in San Jose on June 3.
Northern Ireland squad: Trevor Carson (Motherwell), Conor Hazard (Celtic), Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Leeds); Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (West Brom), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Luke McCullough (Doncaster); Oliver Norwood (Brighton), Corry Evans (Blackburn), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Paddy McNair (Sunderland), George Saville (Millwall), Gavin Whyte (Crusaders), Cameron McGeehan (Barnsley); Josh Magennis (Charlton), Liam Boyce (Burton), Paul Smyth (QPR), Shay McCartan (Bradford).