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Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill will reconsider wide options

Published 05/11/2016

Jamie Ward will be missing when Northern Ireland host Azerbaijan
Jamie Ward will be missing when Northern Ireland host Azerbaijan

Michael O'Neill has seen his wide options depleted for Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier with Azerbaijan on Friday after Jamie Ward broke his wrist.

Ward, on loan at Burton from Nottingham Forest, was withdrawn 12 minutes into Saturday's draw with Barnsley and club manager Nigel Clough confirmed he will not be joining up with the rest of O'Neill's squad in Belfast next week.

"He's fractured his wrist," Clough said in quotes published on Burton's official website.

"We don't quite know how badly but he's definitely broken it or fractured it or done something so he will be out for a few weeks.

"He obviously won't be going away with Northern Ireland, he will get an operation to have it set then the good thing is he can play with a cast."

Ward has started each of his country's last half a dozen competitive internationals.

Leeds' Stuart Dallas is another O'Neill regular who may miss out when Azerbaijan visit Windsor Park due to a calf problem.

Dallas has not played since picking up the problem during the previous international break and O'Neill conceded including him in his original 25-man squad was therefore a risk.

The Northern Irish boss acknowledged Dallas' availability for this weekend would have a bearing on whether he could feature six days later and the winger was still sidelined while the Whites defeated Norwich 3-2.

Leeds boss Garry Monk has already warned O'Neill that Dallas' situation means he will not be ready to appear for his international side.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's game with Norwich, Monk had said: "it's been four weeks and Stuart has not even touched a football.

"From a medical point of view, from a physical point of view, from any point of view, it makes no sense and it puts the player at a high risk if you play the minutes.

"But with the international team you don't tell them what to do, they work the way they work and they have their prerogative but common sense I'm sure will prevail.

"It's impossible for a player to go four weeks without even kicking a football to then go into an international game with a high level.

"It's a very high risk for the player and I'm sure Northern Ireland don't want to risk that and we don't Stuart to be risked like that. But I'm sure common sense will prevail."

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