Two notable returnees to Northern Ireland Women’s squad

Northern Ireland women's goalkeeper, Jackie Burns
Jackie Burns of Northern Ireland in action during UEFA Women’s Euro 2022. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

Northern Ireland’s squad for their opening UEFA Women’s Euro 2025 qualifiers features two long-term absentees, one of whom had not been selected for seven years.

Returning for the games against Malta and Bosnia and Herzegovina next month is Reading goalkeeper Jackie Burns, who has not appeared for Northern Ireland since November 2022 when she played against Italy in a friendly, reports

Burns, who has 45 caps for her country, has been back in her club’s matchday squad in the Barclays Women’s Championship recently after recovering from achilles and shoulder injuries which kept her out of action last year.

Prior to her injuries, the 27-year-old had firmly established herself as Northern Ireland’s number one. She appeared in all of Northern Ireland’s matches at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

Newcastle United v Burnley, FA Women's National League
Brenna McPartlan during Burnley’s 0-0 draw at FA WNL Northern Premier Division leaders, Newcastle United. (Photo: Colin Lock)

Returning to the Northern Ireland set-up after a much longer absence is Burnley’s Brenna McPartlan (24). The midfielder has previously played once for Northern Ireland, as a teenager she was a substitute in a friendly with Wales in April 2017.

London City Lionesses midfielder Connie Scofield (24) gets a first call-up but is awaiting clearance from FIFA before being declared eligible for the two games.

Continental Tyres League Cup - London City Lionesses v Arsenal - Princes Park
London City Lionesses’ Connie Scofield could make her Northern Ireland debut. (James Whitehead / SPP)

Four other changes to the squad that successfully navigated Nations League play-off matches against Montenegro last month, see returns for Rebecca Holloway, Abbie Magee, Rachel McLaren and Casey Howe.

NI centurion Sarah McFadden is not available for the games, as she is recovering from an operation on a long-standing injury. Also not available for the upcoming international window is Blackburn Rovers’ Danielle Maxwell.

Northern Ireland’s first group game is against Malta on Friday 5 April at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (7pm kick-off). They then play Bosnia and Herzegovina on Tuesday 9 April at the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Training Centre in Zenica (3.30pm start CET).

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (Reading), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers), Lauren Perry (Montrose).

Defenders: Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City), Rebecca McKenna (Charlton Athletic), Laura Rafferty (Southampton), Demi Vance (Glentoran), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville), Rachel Dugdale (Reading), Rachel McLaren (Crusaders Strikers).

Midfielders: Joely Andrews, Nadene Caldwell and Chloe McCarron (all Glentoran), Megan Bell (Hearts – on loan from Rangers), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Brenna McPartlan (Burnley).

Forwards: Kerry Beattie (Glentoran), Simone Magill (Aston Villa), Lauren Wade (Reading), Keri Halliday (Linfield), Casey Howe (Athlone Town), Caragh Hamilton (Lewes).

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