Pair end long wait for return to Northern Ireland women’s squad

Northern Ireland v Albania - UEFA Women's Nations League
Tanya Oxtoby, Head Coach of Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Rachel Dugdale and Lauren Perry are back in the Northern Ireland squad for the UEFA Women’s Nations League play-off matches against Montenegro.

The pair, who have not been involved in the senior international set-up in recent years, are among three changes to the panel chosen for the final two Nations League group stage matches back in December.

This month’s play-off games will see Northern Ireland take on Montenegro at the Gradski Stadion in Podgorica on Friday 23 February (1pm start UK time) followed by the return leg at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Tuesday 27 February (7pm).

The overall winner will be in League B in the European Qualifiers phase of the Women’s Nations League this year, while the losing team will be in League C.

Defender Dugdale (nee Newborough) has not featured in a Northern Ireland squad since September 2020 when she was an unused substitute in a Euro 2022 qualifier. The 27-year-old has earned 24 senior caps to date.

Goalkeeper Perry (22) earned five caps between 2017 and 2018, however she did not make any appearances under previous Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels, despite being involved in training camps.

Also returning to the fold is Cliftonville defender Kelsie Burrows, who missed the UWNL games in December due to work commitments.

Manager Tanya Oxtoby has chosen a 23-strong panel for the two play-off matches:

Goalkeepers – Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers), Lauren Perry (Montrose).

Defenders – Rebecca Holloway, Ellie Mason (both Birmingham City), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic), Laura Rafferty (Southampton), Demi Vance (Glentoran), Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville), Rachel Dugdale (Reading).

Midfielders – Joely Andrews, Nadene Caldwell and Chloe McCarron (all Glentoran), Megan Bell (Hearts – on loan from Rangers), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Caragh Hamilton (Lewes).

Forwards: Kerry Beattie, Emily Wilson (both Glentoran), Simone Magill (Aston Villa), Lauren Wade (Reading), Danielle Maxwell (Blackburn Rovers), Keri Halliday (Linfield).

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