James Gray and Liam Boyce called into NI squad for friendlies

Accrington Stanley forward James Gray

Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce and Accrington Stanley forward James Gray have been called into the Northern Ireland squad for the forthcoming friendlies against Uruguay and Chile.

Regular strikers Jamie Ward, Martin Paterson, Will Grigg and Kyle Lafferty are all unavailable for the two-game trip to South America.

Gray is the son of former Northern Ireland international Phil Gray.

Boyce has played a major part in Cliftonville's Irish Premiership wins.

The Solitude club have collected back-to-back Irish League titles, thanks in no small measure to Boyce's strike partnership with Joe Gormley.

Paterson and Ward both withdrew from the squad this week after initially being named in NI manager Michael O'Neill's panel for the matches.

Fleetwood midfielder Conor McLaughlin was called into the squad earlier this week.

McLaughlin will join up with O'Neill's party after Fleetwood's League Two play-off final against Burton Albion on Monday.

Northern Ireland play Uruguay in Montevideo on Friday 30 May and then take on Chile in Valparaiso on Wednesday 4 June.

Other players not making the trip include defenders Jonny Evans (Manchester United), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion), Ryan McGivern (Hibernian), and Lee Hodson (Milton Keynes Dons).

Alex Bruce, Craig Cathcart, Rory McArdle, Alan Mannus, Chris Brunt and Pat McCourt are also absent.

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Olympiakos), Michael McGovern (Falkirk), Trevor Carson (Portsmouth).

Defenders: Daniel Lafferty (Burnley), Ryan McLaughlin (Liverpool), Aaron Hughes (QPR), Luke McCullough (Doncaster), Liam Donnelly (Fulham), Chris Baird (Burnley).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield Town), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle Utd), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock), Jonny Steele (New York Red Bulls), Paul Paton (Dundee Utd), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town).

Forwards: Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Billy McKay (Inverness CT), Dean Shiels (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Aberdeen), Liam Boyce (Cliftonville), James Gray (Accrington Stanley).

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