Malta - Northern Ireland Preview: Injury-hit Green and White Army aiming for first win of the season

Six players have pulled out of Michael O'Neill's squad through injury so far, with goalkeeper Roy Carroll's back injury handing St. Johnstone No.1 Alan Mannus a debut


Muscat, Dimech, Agius, Failla
Fenech, Sciberras, Bajada, Schembri
Bogdanovic, Mifsud


Bruce, Evans, McAuley, Lafferty
McGinn, Brunt, Davis, Ferguson
Shiels, Grigg

Malta coach Pietro Ghedin has named an 18-man squad for the game at the Ta'Qalin National Stadium and can call upon experienced striking pair Michael Mifsud and Daniel Bogdanovic, who have both played on British shores in the Championship.

Michael O'Neill has revealed he is set to hand St. Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus his international debut after Roy Carroll was forced to withdraw from the squad through injury.

Carroll is one of six players who have been forced to pull out with Ryan McGivern, Ryan McLaughlin, Oliver Norwood, Jamie Ward and Trevor Carson also on the casualty list.

Gerard Doherty has been called up to replace Carroll and could make his debut if brought on, while Hull City's Alex Bruce is expected to be handed a debut for O'Neill's side, despite having two friendly caps for the Republic of Ireland to his name.

  • Malta have won their previous five international friendlies. Ending victorious against San Marino, Liechtenstein (twice), Luxembourg and the Central African Republic.
  • However, Pietro Ghedin's side have not won a competitive fixture since a 2-1 win over Hungary in October 2006.
  • Former Coventry striker Michael Mifsud (pictured right), will captain Malta on Wednesday night and is his country's record goalscorer.
  • Northern Ireland have won five games out of the six the two teams have played, without conceding a single goal in any of those five victories.
  • Michael O'Neill's side are yet to win a game this season, having drawn four and lost one of their fixtures so far this term, their last win was an August 2011 4-0 triumph over the Faroe Islands.
  • There are 48 places between the sides in the current Fifa world rankings, with Northern Ireland in 98th place, and Malta down in 146th.