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Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

McCourt to miss N Ireland matches

Pat McCourt
Pat McCourt has pulled out of the squad to face Poland and Slovenia

Northern Ireland winger Pat McCourt has withdrawn from the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Slovenia at Windsor Park.

The Celtic player will miss the games at the end of the month because of a hamstring injury and a back problem.

McCourt came on as a late substitute in the 3-0 away victory over San Marino last month.

Northern Ireland lie second in Group Three but they have played a game more than their rivals for qualification.

McCourt won his first cap for Northern Ireland in 2002 while playing for Rochdale.

An impressive spell with Derry City earned the 25-year-old a move to Celtic last June.

Striker Kyle Lafferty, defender George McCartney and midfielder Steve Davis are suspended for the Poland game on 28 March.

But the influential trio can play against Slovenia on 1 April.

Sheffield United striker Jamie Ward is in the squad for the first time.

Ward was born in Birmingham but qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandfather.

Once again there is no place for winger Keith Gillespie, who has just signed for Bradford City.

Northern Ireland squad (v Poland)

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

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

Midfielders: McCann (Scunthorpe United), Brunt (West Brom), McGinn (Celtic), Clingan (Norwich City), Johnson (Birmingham City), Shiels (Doncaster Rovers).

Strikers: Healy (Sunderland), Feeney (Dundee United on loan), Paterson (Burnley), Ward (Sheffield United).

Added for game v Slovenia: McCartney (Sunderland), Lafferty (Rangers), Davis (Rangers)

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see also
Striker Ward in N Ireland call-up
12 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Winger Gillespie joins Bradford
11 Mar 09 |  Bradford
Worthington bemoans 'blip' in win
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
San Marino 0-3 Northern Ireland
11 Feb 09 |  Internationals
Gillespie omitted from NI squad
02 Feb 09 |  Internationals

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