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Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

Gillespie omitted from NI squad

Keith Gillespie
Keith Gillespie won the first of his 86 caps in September 1994

Keith Gillespie has been left out of the Northern Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifier against San Marino in Serravalle on 11 February.

The 33-year-old, who has won 86 caps, is currently without a club having had his contract at Sheffield United terminated by mutual consent last week.

Birmingham midfielder Damien Johnson returns to the panel after a lengthy absence because of injury.

Celtic winger Pat McCourt is called up, with club-mate Niall McGinn also named.

McCourt has won just one cap, in a friendly game against Spain, in 2002.

Influential quartet Aaron Hughes, George McCartney, Stephen Craigan and Steven Davis are recalled after missing the friendly defeat by Hungary at Windsor Park in November.


Michael Duff, Michael O'Connor and Peter Thompson are all notable absentees.

Jonny Evans is part of the 22-strong squad but the Manchester United defender is rated doubtful with an ankle injury which has kept him out of action in recent weeks.

"I tried to get in touch with Keith for the past 12 days but to no avail and I'm disappointed by that," said Worthington.

"It is the right decision not to include him for this game but the door is still open to him.

"I will wait and see where he finishes up, with what club and at what standard, then we can look at his international future from there."

Gillespie told the BBC that he had eventually spoken to Worthington on Monday morning after hearing of his omission.

"Nigel gave me his reasons but I did not entirely agree with them and I'm disappointed to be left out.

"I want to continue my Northern Ireland career and I know I can still do a job so the sooner I get a club and get back playing, the sooner I will be back in the squad.

"With respect to San Marino, it is not as if we are playing one of the big boys in the group but I have just got to live with the situation and abide by the decision, then fight to get back in."

Northern Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: Taylor (Birmingham City), Mannus (Linfield), Tuffey (Partick Thistle),

Defenders: Baird (Fulham), Evans (Manchester Utd), Craigan (Motherwell), Hughes (Fulham), McCartney (Sunderland), McAuley (Ipswich Town), McGivern (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Davis (Rangers), McCann (Scunthorpe United), Brunt (West Bromwich Albion), McGinn (Celtic), Clingan (Norwich City), Johnson (Birmingham City), McCourt (Celtic), Shiels (Doncaster).

Forwards: Healy (Sunderland), Feeney (Cardiff City - on loan at Dundee Utd), Paterson (Burnley), Lafferty (Rangers).

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see also
Blades allow Gillespie to leave
30 Jan 09 |  Sheff Utd
Worthington hits out at players
20 Nov 08 |  Football
N Ireland 0-2 Hungary
19 Nov 08 |  Internationals
Derry's McGinn in N Ireland panel
04 Nov 08 |  Internationals
N Ireland 4-0 San Marino
15 Oct 08 |  Internationals

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