Hughes ruled out of Northern Ireland squad

Manager Michael O'Neill will be without the experienced Fulham centre-back for his side's upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Israel, though Chris Brunt returns
Fulham defender Aaron Hughes will miss Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying fixtures against Azerbaijan and Israel through injury.

The 33-year-old picked up a knock during training, and will now sit out the away fixtures due to be played on September 11 and 15, with Bradford City defender Rory McArdle called up to replace him.

However, manager Michael O'Neill will welcome the return of Chris Brunt from suspension; the West Brom midfielder was absent for the side's 3-2 defeat to Luxembourg in their last Group F encounter after being sent off against Portugal.

Reading's Chris Baird and Kilmarnock's Sammy Clingan also return to the squad, the former was omitted from their previous qualifiers as he was unattached at the time, while Clingan had been suffering with a knee injury.

Palermo striker Kyle Lafferty will miss the fixture with Azerbaijan on September 11 after receiving a straight red card in the defeat to Portugal, though will be on the stand-by list for the match with Israel on September 15.

Northern Ireland currently sit fourth in Group F, and will be looking to end their campaign on a high note in order to boost their ranking for future qualifying campaigns.


Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Olympiacos), Alan Mannus (St Johnstone), Michael McGovern (Falkirk).

Defenders: Chris Baird (Reading), Alex Bruce (Hull City), Craig Cathcart (Blackpool), Jonathan Evans (Manchester United), Lee Hodson (MK Dons), Daniel Lafferty (Burnley), Rory McArdle (Bradford City), Gareth McAuley (West Brom).

Midfielders: Chris Brunt (West Brom), Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock), Steven Davis (Southampton), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Newcastle United), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Oliver Norwood (Huddersfield Town).

Forwards: Will Grigg (Brentford), Josh Magennis (Aberdeen), Billy McKay (Inverness), Martin Paterson (Huddersfield Town), Jamie Ward (Derby County).