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Hazard to make first Northern Ireland start after Baraclough confirms goalkeeper will play against USA


Conor Hazard

Conor Hazard

Conor Hazard

Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has confirmed that goalkeeper Conor Hazard will make his first international start in Sunday's friendly with the USA.

The Celtic stopper has backed up Bailey Peacock-Farrell for the last few internationals but is set to get the nod to be named in the run-on team for the Windsor Park friendly.

The 23-year-old has made one prior appearance for the national team, coming on in the second-half of a 3-0 defeat to Costa Rica in June 2018 with all the goals having already been scored.

Hazard has been in fine form for the Hoops this season, making six appearances and saving two penalties in the shoot-out victory over Hearts in December's delayed Scottish Cup final.

However, Baraclough has confirmed that this isn't a case of regular starter Peacock-Farrell being dropped, rather this was a pre-planned decision to give Hazard a game instead.

The Burnley goalkeeper made a couple of mistakes in the 2-0 defeat to Italy on Thursday and received some criticism for it, but Baraclough insisted Peacock-Farrell was still his No.1.

Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles is also expected to feature at some point against the USA, although he may have to settle with a spot on the bench as Kyle Lafferty is in line to start.

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Jamal Lewis could also be fit after missing the World Cup qualifier against Italy, however the left-back may be held in reserve for Wednesday's second qualifier against Bulgaria at Windsor Park to ensure he is fully recovered.

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