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Davis facing late fitness test

Northern Ireland are still sweating over the fitness of captain Steven Davis ahead of Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier in Romania.

Southampton midfielder Davis has been in exemplary form in the three-match winning streak that has pushed Northern Ireland to the top of Group F but is struggling with a hamstring injury.

Davis had to be substituted during Saints' 2-0 win over Leicester last weekend but, after scans by club doctors, he joined up with the national squad in London on Tuesday night.

Despite that, concerns still exist over his fitness and he will face a final fitness test from the Northern Ireland medical staff before deciding whether to board Wednesday evening's flight to Bucharest.

An IFA statement said: " Steven Davis has joined up with the Northern Ireland squad and will be assessed by the medical staff tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Injury had already forced out Derby forward Jamie Ward and Liverpool full-back Ryan McLaughlin, but former captain Aaron Hughes appears to have won his battle with an ankle problem.

Ward and McLaughlin were replaced in the group by uncapped Rochdale midfielder Matthew Lund and Oldham's Carl Winchester, whose solitary appearance to date came in a weakened Carling Nations Cup squad in 2011.

Brentford winger Stuart Dallas had been on the standby list and was the preferred replacement for Ward but he has also been struggling for fitness and could not accept the call.

Latics boss Lee Johnson, reacting to Winchester's summons, told the club's official website: ''I'm delighted f or two reasons as he can still play on the Saturday for us because if he is not involved with Northern Ireland, he can come back and play.

''I'm delighted for him and the club because to have a player come through the youth system is excellent. Supporters can see the path he has come from to become a full international and it is fantastic for Carl and the club.''


From Belfast Telegraph