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James Singleton injury overshadows narrow Northern Ireland U21 defeat


Injury blow: James Singleton yesterday at Mourneview Park

Injury blow: James Singleton yesterday at Mourneview Park

Injury blow: James Singleton yesterday at Mourneview Park

James Singleton is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after breaking his left leg 20 minutes from the end of Northern Ireland's European Under-21 Championship qualifying loss to Macedonia at Mourneview Park.

The Glenavon midfielder left the pitch on a stretcher with his foot in a brace and was taken straight to hospital, where x-rays revealed the fracture.

The 20-year-old is expected to be out until at least Christmas.

Singleton's injury added to the agony for Northern Ireland, who had led at half time before losing the game 2-1.

Macedonia were inches away from opening the scoring seven minutes before half time, when Daniel Avramovski headed against a post.

After surviving that scare Northern Ireland went up the pitch and made it 1-0 on 43 minutes. Shrewsbury Town midfielder Darren McKnight swung in a corner, Liam Donnelly headed goalwards and Josh Doherty of Watford provided the finishing touch.

Macedonia introduced Viktor Angelov at half time and his impact was almost immediate. Just a minute into the second half he set up Enis Bardi, who sent a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

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Singleton then came off worst in a challenge with Angelov, with Shay McCartan replacing him as he was carried off.

Macedonia hit the post again 10 minutes from time, David Babunski this time being denied by the woodwork.

Kire Markovski was more accurate when he scored the winner five minutes from time.

Northern Ireland: Brennan, Dummigan, Sharpe, Donnelly, Doherty, McKnight, Whyte (Maloney 86mins), Singleton (McCartan 70mins), Kennedy (McDaid 88mins), Camps, Duffy. Subs: Mitchell, Conlan, Cooper, McDonagh.

Macedonia: Aleksovski, Musliu, Zajkov, Bardi, Nikolov, Radeski (Kostadinov 88mins), Babunski (Mustafov 93mins), Avramovski (Angelov 46mins), Markoski, Demiri, Murati. Subs: Siskovski, Ristovski, Amanovic, Imeri.

Referee: Sandor Szabo (Hungary).

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