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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 13:30 GMT
McIlroy rings the changes

Dowie: Managed one international goal in 30 months


New Northern Ireland boss Sammy McIlroy has recalled Jim Magilton and Danny Sonner from international exile.

The Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday midfielders have been named in McIlroy's first squad, which faces Luxembourg on February 23.

McIlroy has also axed veteran striker Iain Dowie, effectively ending his 10-year international career.

Magilton: Branded too slow
The changes signal the new manager's intent to be his own man.

Magilton and Sonner were ignored by former Irish boss Lawrie McMenemy.

McMenemy axed Magilton for disciplinary reasons and because he was "too slow", while he ignored Sonner because he claimed he was a "Walter Mitty" figure who lived in his own world.

Sonner has not played international football for 11 months, while Magilton's last cap came in a friendly against Spain in June 1998.

McIlroy has also opted to give Manchester United reserve hitman David Healy, who has scored four goals in eight Under-21 appearances, his first senior cap, in place of Dowie.

Dowie, nearly 35, has scored only one international goal in two and a half years of trying.

Sonner: Accused of being on another planet
Keith Gillespie is also back after recovering from injury and stands a good chance of starting because Jon McCarthy is out with a broken leg.

Wigan's highly-rated goalkeeper Roy Carroll has also graduated to the full squad from the Under-21s, while McIlroy has also selected Carroll's clubmate Pat McGibbon and the uncapped Colin Murdock of Preston.

Skipper Steve Lomas and Manchester City's Kevin Horlock return after missing Northern Ireland's final Euro 2000 qualifier in October because of suspension.

Leicester's Gerry Taggart is also back from the wilderness following his exclusion under McMenemy for disciplinary reasons, but is excused along with his Leicester team-mate Neil Lennon because of the Worthington Cup Final, which is just four days after the friendly.

Northern Ireland squad to play Luxembourg away on February 23:

Maik Taylor (Fulham), Roy Carroll (Wigan), Aaron Hughes (Newcastle), Mark Williams (Watford), Danny Griffin (St Johnstone), Ian Nolan (Sheffield Wednesday), Colin Murdock (Preston), Pat McGibbon (Wigan), Kevin Horlock (Manchester City), Keith Gillespie (Blackburn), Damien Johnson (Blackburn), Michael Hughes (Wimbledon), Jim Magilton (Ipswich), Jeff Whitley (Manchester City), Danny Sonner (Sheffield Wednesday), Steve Lomas (West Ham), James Quinn (West Brom), Adrian Coote (Norwich), David Healy (Manchester United), Stephen Robinson (Bournemouth).

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See also:
05 Jan 00 |  Football
McIlroy calls for passion
04 Jan 00 |  Football
McIlroy: NI's new man
04 Sep 99 |  Football
Turks end Northern Ireland hopes
20 Aug 99 |  Football
Belfast blues as France scrape home
08 Oct 99 |  Football
Lennon gets skipper nod
Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.