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Linfield's Andy Waterworth spared conflict of interest as Northern Ireland U19's upcoming UEFA Championship games called off

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Andy Waterworth

Andy Waterworth

©INPHO/Presseye/Jonathan Porter

Andy Waterworth

Linfield striker Andy Waterworth will not have to miss two crunch Danske Bank Premiership clashes next month as the UEFA Under 19 Championships have been cancelled.

Qualifiers had been due to be played at the end of March, with Northern Ireland set to play three group matches in Sweden.

Waterworth, along with Gareth McAuley and Roy Carroll, has been appointed to new Northern Ireland U19 manager Gerard Lyttle's backroom team and it had been understood Waterworth was set to opt to go with Northern Ireland to Sweden, missing Linfield's trips to Ballymena on March 23 and Portadown four days later.

However, those international games will now not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which will prove a boost to Linfield's title hopes.

It will also mean Dungannon goalkeeper Carroll will be available for the Swifts' league encounters at home to Crusaders (March 23) and Glenavon (March 30), plus a visit to Ballymena on March 27.

A UEFA statement explained: "In making these decisions, the UEFA Executive Committee took note that, with the government restrictions currently in place the travelling of teams and staging of mini-tournaments would prove very difficult.

"The UEFA member associations were consulted and supported the decision. Although it is unfortunate that no youth competitions can take place in the current season, the health and safety of young athletes must be prioritized in the current circumstances."

The equivalent tournament for Northern Ireland Women's U19s has also been cancelled. The side had been in training last week.

Meanwhile, UEFA has also confirmed it will trial a concussion substitute during the final phase of the UEFA U21 Championship.

Each team may use one concussion substitute per match, regardless of the number of substitutes already used. A concussion substitution is not counted as one of the team's normal substitutions but it cannot be used to bring a player who has previously been substituted back onto the pitch.

 

Belfast Telegraph


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