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Last Updated: Friday, 23 May, 2003, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Baird in line for NI debut
Chris Baird starred for Southampton in the FA Cup final
Chris Baird is expected to play against Italy on 3 June

FA Cup final star Chris Baird has been included in the Northern Ireland squad for the June internationals against Italy and Spain.

It is the first time the 21-year-old from Rasharkin has been named in an original squad by manager Sammy McIlroy.

However, he was called in as a replacement for the European Championship qualifiers against Armenia and Greece earlier this year.

Baird was on the bench for both games but has yet to get his first taste of senior international action.

He received rave reviews for an outstanding performance at full-back in the FA Cup final when his Southampton side lost 1-0 to Arsenal at the Millennuim Stadium.

Northern Ireland are away Italy in a friendly game on 3 June and then entertain Spain in a European qualifer on 11 June.

McIlroy has named Irish League striker Andy Smith and Gary Hamilton in his panel for the games.

Smith of Glentoran and Portadown's Hamilton both played in the recent 'B' international in Scotland.

Notable absentees include striker James Quinn and winger Keith Gillespie who are suspended as a result of their red cards in the 2 April game against Greece which Northern Ireland lost 2-0.

Goalkeepers: Maik Taylor (Fulham), Roy Carroll (Manchester United); defenders: George McCartney (Sunderland), Mark Williams (Wimbledon), Aaron Hughes (Newcastle United), Stephen Craigan (Partick Thistle), Danny Griffin (Dundee United), Peter Kennedy (Wigan Athletic), Chris Baird (Southampton).

Midfielders: Damien Johnson (Birmingham City), Ciaran Toner (Leyton Orient), Grant McCann (Cheltenham Town), Tommy Doherty (Bristol City), Stuart Elliott (Hull City), Steve Jones (Crewe Alexandra).

Forwards: David Healy (Preston), Paul McVeigh ( Norwich City), Gary Hamilton (Portadown), Andrew Smith (Glentoran).

Baird earns Cup Final praise
17 May 03  |  FA Cup

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