Michael Smith and Conor Washington called into NI squad

Conor Washington joined QPR from Peterborough united in January
Conor Washington joined QPR from Peterborough United in January

Uncapped duo Michael Smith and Conor Washington have been named in the Northern Ireland squad for the friendlies against Wales and Slovenia.

Peterborough United defender Smith, 27, and 23-year-old Queen's Park Rangers striker Washington are part of NI manager Michael O'Neill's 24-man squad.

Derby County defender Chris Baird, on loan at Fulham, is ruled out by injury.

NI play Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium on Thursday 24 March and host Slovenia in Belfast on Monday 28 March.

Smith formerly played for Ballyclare Comrades and Ballymena United and spent three years with Bristol Rovers, before signing for Peterborough in 2014.

Washington, who qualifies to play for Northern Ireland through the grandparent rule, signed for QPR in January after scoring 27 goals in 82 appearances for Peterborough.

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

Much attention will focus on who will be handed a chance to impress at left-back, given that West Bromwich Albion defender Chris Brunt has been ruled out of this summer's Euro 2016 finals with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The matches will form part of the country's preparation for their first appearance at a major finals for 30 years, with fixtures against Belarus in Belfast on 27 May and Slovakia away on 4 June to follow.

Northern will face Poland in their first Euro 2016 Group C match on 12 June, with Ukraine their next opponents on 16 June, and Germany to follow on 21 June.

Prior to Wednesday's squad announcement, the Irish Football Association announced that O'Neill had agreed a new four-year deal to continue as manager of the national team.

Northern Ireland squad: Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll, Michael McGovern, Alan Mannus

Defenders: Aaron Hughes, Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart, Lee Hodson, Conor McLaughlin, Daniel Lafferty, Luke McCullough, Paddy McNair, Michael Smith

Midfielders: Steven Davis, Niall McGinn, Oliver Norwood, Shane Ferguson, Stuart Dallas

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty, Jamie Ward, Josh Magennis, Billy McKay, Liam Boyce, Conor Washington

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