Defender Ryan McLaughlin back in Northern Ireland squad

Ryan McLaughlin
Ryan McLaughlin

Liverpool defender Ryan McLaughlin is back in the Northern Ireland squad for the forthcoming games against Uruguay and Chile in South America.

McLaughlin opted out of international football last summer to concentrate on his club career.

Goalkeeper Trevor Carson, defenders Luke McCullough and Liam Donnelly and midfielder Paul Paton are the other uncapped players in the 22-man squad.

A number of regular senior players are not named in Michael O'Neill's panel.

St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus and defenders Lee Hodson, Jonny Evans, Ryan McGivern, Gareth McAuley, Alex Bruce, Craig Cathcart and Rory McArdle are all missing.

Chris Brunt, Ben Reeves, Pat McCourt, Kyle Lafferty and Will Grigg are also absent for the friendly matches against Uruguay in Montevideo on Friday 30 May and against Chile in Valparaiso on Wednesday 4 June, but Jonny Steele is recalled.

Lafferty's season with Palermo is ongoing, McCourt is currently without a club and Cathcart's future with Blackpool is uncertain.

Hodson has been struggling with a hip problem and Reeves did not play in the last five games of the season. Jonny Evans has also had ongoing injury problems.

McLaughlin, a 19-year-old right-back, has also previously been an unused squad member and returns to the fold having made a first-team breakthrough at club level in 2013-14, turning out nine times for Barnsley on loan.

"Ryan's situation has been very well documented but my conversations with him have been ongoing.

Trevor Carson
Goalkeeper Trevor Carson has yet to win his first Northern Ireland cap

"I have never fallen out with players for being unavailable for whatever reasons and I'm not going to start now.

"The conversations I have had with Ryan recently have been very positive and he said he would like to be considered for the summer tour to South America, if selected.

"I am very much thinking long-term and Ryan understands that and was happy to make himself available which is terrific for us.

"He is delighted to be back involved in the international set-up and I am delighted to have him.

"Players have a lot to deal with these days but there has never been any issue with Ryan.

"The situation was quite simple; he didn't think being away from Liverpool to go on international duty would be beneficial to him.

"Having gone on loan to Barnsley I think he has seen what it could do for him and his development."

While still not in possession of a full cap, Portsmouth's former Sunderland stopper Carson has been in the senior squad before and has represented Northern Ireland B.

Donnelly, 18 and part of the youth set-up at Fulham that has been gaining considerable attention of late, has not made a first-team appearance in English football, while 20-year-old ex-Manchester United academy member McCullough has been playing for Doncaster over the past season.

Dundee United's Paton was called into the last squad - for the 0-0 friendly draw in Cyprus in March - as a replacement for Sammy Clingan.

O'Neill will use the fixtures as preparation for the Euro 2016 qualifying series, which begins in September.

Northern Ireland squad: Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Olympiacos), 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).

Forwards: Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Billy McKay (Inverness CT), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield Town), Jamie Ward (Derby County), Dean Shiels (Rangers), Josh Magennis (Aberdeen).

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