Crusaders captain Colin Coates has amazingly kept his place in the Northern Ireland squad after making his debut against Italy in June.
Coates — who remains the subject of interest from League One club Leeds United — is the only one of the eight players who made their international debuts in Pisa to be recalled for next week’s Windsor Park friendly against Israel as Nigel Worthington prepares his squad for the final three games of the World Cup qualifying series.
And Worthington has caused a stir by including Coates — the only Carling Premiership player in the squad now that Alan Mannus has signed for Shamrock Rovers — has been included ahead of Manchester United’s Craig Cathcart.
After spending last season on-loan at Plymouth Argyle the Newtownabbey-man appeared in United’s pre-season friendly against Boca Juniors last week and had looked a good bet to win a call-up.
Cathcart had originally been named in the squad to face Italy, but was forced to withdraw through injury. He had also been in the travelling party for the match in San Marino back in February, but didn’t make the bench.
Coates also gets the nod ahead of Burnley’s Michael Duff, who is preparing to make the step-up into the Premier League with the Clarets when they face Stoke City and Manchester United in their opening two games.
Otherwise the squad is similar to that which beat Poland and Slovenia in the World Cup qualifying double header back in the spring.
The only notable omission is striker Warren Feeney — who scored the winner against Slovenia — as he underwent surgery on an injured hip a couple of weeks ago.
There is no place for Doncaster Rovers’ Dean Shiels, Celtic’s Paddy McCourt or Sheffield United striker Jamie Ward, who was handed his first call-up for the Poland and Slovenia games.
Back comes Martin Paterson who missed those matches through a hamstring injury and like Duff he is readying himself for an assault on the top flight with Burnley.
Northern Ireland squad to face Israel in a friendly at Windsor Park on August 12:
Taylor (Birmingham City), Mannus (Shamrock Rovers), Tuffey (Partick Thistle); Craigan (Motherwell), Hughes (Fulham), McAuley (Ipswich Town), McGivern (Manchester City), Baird (Fulham), Evans (Manchester United), McCartney (Sunderland), Coates (Crusaders); McCann (Scunthorpe United), Brunt (West Bromwich Albion), McGinn (Celtic), Clingan (Coventry City), Johnson (Birmingham City), Davis (Rangers); Healy (Sunderland), Little (Rangers), Paterson (Burnley), Lafferty (Rangers).