Fit-again Jamal Lewis in familiar Northern Ireland squad

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has named an unchanged squad for his side’s decisive Euro 2020 qualifiers against Holland and Germany.

O’Neill has retained the same 25-man panel he announced for last month’s defeat to the Dutch and the subsequent friendly win away in the Czech Republic.

Norwich defender Jamal Lewis was forced to pull out of those games courtesy of a knee injury but is fit again, having returned to the Canaries side in recent weeks.

St Johnstone winger Matthew Kennedy is the only uncapped player involved after receiving his first call-up last time out, while Watford’s Craig Cathcart, Hearts’ Michael Smith, Cardiff’s Gavin Whyte and Blackpool’s Jordan Thompson are all expected to be ready despite recent fitness concerns.

Paddy McNair, whose brace against the Czechs handed Northern Ireland a first away friendly win in 13 years, has the chance to build on that and there is another opportunity for Shayne Lavery, the in-form Linfield forward who was released from the senior squad to play for the under-21s in October.

Northern Ireland sit third in Group C, just three points behind each of their final two opponents. Ronald Koeman’s Holland visit Windsor Park on November 16, with the team’s campaign concluding in Frankfurt three days later.

Paddy McNair, who scored twice as Northern Ireland beat the Czech Republic last month.
Paddy McNair scored twice as Northern Ireland beat the Czech Republic last month (Liam McBurney/PA)

Should they fail to engineer a shock and gatecrash the top two they are all but certain of landing a play-off place in third. That keeps alive the dream of back-to-back appearances in the European Championships after making their first tournament appearance in 30 years at Euro 2016, reaching the last 16.

Skipper Steven Davis will reach 117 caps should he appear in both upcoming fixtures, taking him two short of Pat Jennings’ national record.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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