David Healy left out of Northern Ireland squad for qualifiers

Northern Ireland's record goalscorer David Healy has failed to make the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Luxembourg.

Healy was left out out of the friendly with Finland as he had no club but scored on his Bury debut on Saturday.

"David has had 60 minutes of competitive football this season and that is not quite enough to make this squad," said NI boss Michael O'Neill.

Jonny Evans, Aaron Hughes and Pat McCourt return after injury.

Manchester United defender Evans (foot), Fulham's Hughes (ankle) and Celtic winger McCourt (hip) missed the 3-3 draw with Finland earlier this month.

Ipswich midfielder Josh Carson was a late call-up for the game against the Finns but an impressive substitute appearance earns him a place in the 23-man panel.

Walsall striker Will Grigg comes into a squad which also includes in-form Rangers forward Andrew Little.

There is still no place for Peterborough midfielder Grant McCann or Sammy Clingan, who is currently without a club.

O'Neill has indicated that Healy could still be added to the squad for the Luxembourg game if he gets a few more matches under his belt for Bury.

"I may opt to bring in available players for the Luxembourg game and David should have played two more games for his club by then.

"There are a number of players on standby and it's nice to know that you can still call upon men of the experience of David, Grant (McCann) or Sammy (Clingan) if need be," said O'Neill.

O'Neill has yet to taste victory after three games, although the display against Finland was an improvement after his side had previously suffered two defeats without scoring a goal.

Northern Ireland start their qualifying campaign against Russia in Moscow on 7 September, with the Luxembourg game at Windsor Park four days later.

"People expect us to beat Luxembourg, but if we take anything from Russia it will be a massive bonus," admitted O'Neill.

"If we finish any higher than our seeding of fourth then that would be a good achievement," he added.

Meanwhile O'Neill revealed that he has spoken to a number of potentially eligible players in an attempt to persuade them to throw their lot in with Northern Ireland.

"It is quite difficult to get people to commit, particularly those playing at Premier League standard more than those playing in the lower divisions, but I'm hopeful that two or three will come on board."

Northern Ireland squad: L Camp (Nottingham Forest), R Carroll (Olympiakos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), L Hodson (Watford), C Cathcart (Blackpool), G McAuley (West Brom), A Hughes (Fulham), J Evans (Man Utd), R McGivern (Man City), C Evans (Hull), S Davis (Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), J Carson (Ipswich), C Baird (Fulham), S Ferguson (Newcastle), C Brunt (West Brom), P McCourt (Celtic), M Paterson (Burnley), K Lafferty (Sion), D Shiels (Rangers), A Little (Rangers), W Grigg (Walsall), J Ward (Derby).

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