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Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 11:08 UK

Ward returns to N Ireland squad

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Nigel Worthington names his panel for the World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Slovakia

Sheffield United striker Jamie Ward has been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Poland and Slovakia.

The 23-year-old's inclusion is the only change from the panel Nigel Worthington selected for the recent friendly against Israel which was a 1-1 draw.

Defender Chris Baird is suspended for the first game against Poland.

Worthington believes Northern Ireland need seven points from three games to have a chance of topping Group Three.

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They are second but have played a game more than leaders Slovakia.

Northern Ireland are away to Poland on 5 September and at home to Slovakia four days later.

The campaign ends with a trip to the Czech Republic on 14 October.

Worthington has named five strikers in all with record scorer David Healy, Kyle Lafferty, Martin Paterson and Andrew Little all included.

The NI boss indicated he would keep faith with Healy despite his lack of first team action with Sunderland.

"If we had a Torres or Defoe, then I could say to him, have a breather. But we are not in that situation," said the former Norwich boss.

"I have got to go with him. Knowing David's passion for his country, he is very frustrated.

"He wants to put things right and what better time than over the course of the next three games."

Maik Taylor looks likely to continue in goal even though he has lost his place to Joe Hart at Birmingham as both Jonny Tuffey and Alan Mannus are inexperienced.

To have any chance of qualifying for the 2010 finals in South Africa, Northern Ireland need to improve a dreadful away record.


Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Taylor (Birmingham), Mannus (Shamrock Rovers), Tuffey (Partick)

Defenders: Craigan (Motherwell), Hughes (Fulham), McAuley (Ipswich), McGivern (Man City), Baird (Fulham), Evans (Man United), McCartney (Sunderland), Coates (Crusaders)

Midfielders: McCann (Scunthorpe), Brunt (West Brom), McGinn (Celtic), Clingan (Coventry), Johnson (Birmingham), Davis (Rangers)

Forwards: Healy (Sunderland), Little (Rangers), Paterson (Burnley), Lafferty (Rangers), Ward (Sheffield United)



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see also
N Ireland qualifiers live on BBC
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
NI winger impresses Worthington
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
N Ireland 1-1 Israel
12 Aug 09 |  Internationals
Coates remains in N Ireland squad
03 Aug 09 |  Internationals


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