Northern Ireland Women’s squad selected to play Wales

Megan Bell returns to Irish squad
Rangers’ Megan Bell returns to orthern Ireland squad after injury. (Alex Todd/SPP)

The interim Northern Ireland manager Andy Waterworth has selected a 23-strong squad for next week’s friendly against Wales in Cardiff.

Returning are attacking midfielder Rachel Furness and Southampton Women defender Laura Rafferty, plus Rangers  midfielder Megan Bell who missed last summer’s Euros and subsequent games due to injury.

Lewes midfielder Ellie Mason returns, too. Mason made her debut for Northern Ireland in the 3-1 win against Latvia in September but was not selected for the Italy game.

Reading goalkeeper Jackie Burns has had to withdraw from the squad due to injury, although this has enabled two young goalkeepers to join the panel. Lilie Woods (Mid-Ulster) last featured in the senior squad for the World Cup qualifiers in September, while Crusaders Strikers stopper Maddy Harvey-Clifford was part of the full-time training squad for the Euros last year but did not feature in any matchday squads in 2022.

Cliftonville quartet Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Louise McDaniel, Fi Morgan and Danielle Maxwell, who were all in the squad for the friendly international against Italy in Belfast, are on the standby list.

Waterworth, who is Head of Elite Player Development at the Irish FA, is acting as the interim manager of the senior women’s team following the departure of Kenny Shiels earlier this year.

Northern Ireland are set to face Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium next Thursday (6 April). Kick-off time is 7.15pm.

Former senior international players Aaron Hughes and Roy Carroll are also set to be involved next week. Hughes will be the interim senior coach, while Carroll is the interim goalkeeping coach.

Crusaders Strikers defender Julie Nelson is currently completing her rehabilitation from knee surgery but will join Waterworth’s interim coaching team for the friendly.

Northern Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers – Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers), Lilie Woods (Mid Ulster).

Defenders – Kelsie Burrows and Abbie Magee (both Cliftonville), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville), Sarah McFadden (Durham), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes), Demi Vance (Unattached), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women).

Midfielders – Nadene Caldwell, Joely Andrews, Chloe McCarron and Caragh Hamilton (all Glentoran), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Rachel Furness (Bristol City), Megan Bell (Rangers), Ellie Mason (Lewes).

Forwards: Lauren Wade (Reading), Caitlin McGuinness and Kirsty McGuinness (both Cliftonville), Emily Wilson and Kerry Beattie (both Glentoran).

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