Sheffield United goalkeeper Becky Flaherty has returned to the Northern Ireland fold ahead of next week’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifier away to Belarus.
Flaherty, who had a long-term hip injury but has now fully recovered following surgery, last played for her country when producing heroics to thwart Wales in Belfast in a Euro qualifier last November which ended 0-0, reports irishfa.com.
She is one of several changes to senior women’s team manager Kenny Shiels’ squad ahead of the match in Minsk next Tuesday (27 October).
Also back in the group after a lengthy absence is defender Natalie Johnson, who also plays for Sheffield United. Johnson was last capped in March 2019.
Linfield defender Kelsie Burrows, who missed last month’s successful trip to the Faroe Islands due to injury, has returned to the panel, too.
And Shiels has brought back Caitlin McGuinness, who joins her sister Kirsty in the squad. The striker sisters have been setting the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership alight this season with their scoring exploits for Sion Swifts, with 12 goals between them in just five league outings.
Experienced midfielder Marissa Callaghan is included in the 21-strong squad, too, after missing last month’s game against the Faroese for personal reasons.
Young midfielder Danielle Maxwell has joined the group as well. The 18-year-old is one of five Glentoran players in the panel.
Maxwell last appeared for the senior women’s team at the Pinatar Cup tournament in Spain earlier this year. She replaces Glens team-mate Caragh Milligan, who had to withdraw from the squad over the weekend due to injury.
Also unlucky to miss out this time are goalkeeper Toni-Leigh Finnegan (Cliftonville), Rachel Newborough (Charlton Athletic), Rebecca McKenna (Linfield) and Kerry Beattie (Glentoran).
Rangers midfielder Megan Bell and Glentoran defender/midfielder Emma McMaster are both out with long term injuries.
After next week’s match, Northern Ireland are set to take on Belarus at home on 27 November before facing Faroe Islands at home on 1 December – both matches will be at Seaview – to complete their Group C qualification campaign.
If they win all their remaining matches in the group then Northern Ireland will have a chance of competing for a place at Women’s Euro 2022.
Northern Ireland squad
Jackie Burns (Glentoran), Lauren Perry (Forfar Farmington) Becky Flaherty (Sheffield United).
Kelsie Burrows (Linfield), Natalie Johnson (Sheffield United), Ashley Hutton (Linfield), Abbie Magee (Linfield), Julie Nelson (Crusaders), Demi Vance (Rangers).
Joely Andrews (Glentoran), Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Rachel Furness (Liverpool), Samantha Kelly (Glentoran), Chloe McCarron (Birmingham City), Sarah Robson (Durham), Danielle Maxwell (Glentoran).
Simone Magill (Everton), Caitlin McGuinness (Sion Swifts), Kirsty McGuinness (Sion Swifts), Lauren Wade (Glasgow City).