Gareth McAuley will be fit for NI's vital Azerbaijan game says Michael O'Neill

Gareth McAuley waves to Northern Ireland fans after the win over Norway in March
Gareth McAuley, 37, remains an important player for Northern Ireland despite his veteran status

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is confident Gareth McAuley will be fit for Saturday's vital World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.

Veteran West Brom defender McAuley missed Friday's friendly win over New Zealand as he stayed at his club to get treatment on a thigh injury.

"He is fine and we aren't too concerned about his fitness for Saturday," said the Northern Ireland manager.

McAuley, 37, missed his club's final two fixtures of the season.

"We have tailored his training a little bit. He hasn't done all the sessions," added O'Neill.

"Obviously we have to manage him given the season he's had and the recent injury."

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Northern Ireland prepare for Baku heat at Turkish training camp

N Ireland prepare for Baku heat in Turkey

O'Neill has brought his squad to the southern Turkish city of Antalya this week in order to acclimatise for the expected temperatures of close to 30 degrees centigrade in Baku.

"It's the purpose of why we are here, as well as to limit the travel at the back end of the week," added the Northern Ireland boss.

"The last two days have been particularly hot so we have been training in that type of heat since Monday.

"In the evenings it's been slightly cooler which is more realistic - we've been training at the equivalent of kick-off time in Baku.

"It has still been warm though it's not sunny, so the players have had good preparation in relation to getting acclimatised."

With Conor Washington and Jamie Ward unavailable, Liam Boyce and Josh Magennis are being tipped to start in the Northern Ireland attack on Saturday.

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: McGovern (Norwich City), Mannus (St Johnstone), Carroll (Linfield)

Defenders: McAuley (West Brom), Evans (West Brom), Hughes (Hearts), Cathcart (Watford), Brunt (West Brom), C McLaughlin (Fleetwood), Hodson (Rangers), R McLaughlin (Oldham), Thompson (Southend), D Lafferty (Sheffield United), Flanagan (Burton Albion)

Midfielders: Davis (Southampton), McGinn (Aberdeen), Norwood (Brighton), Ferguson (Millwall), Dallas (Leeds), Lund (Burton Albion), Paton (St Johnstone)

Strikers: K Lafferty (Norwich), Magennis (Charlton), Boyce (Ross County), McCartan (Accrington Stanley)

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