Belfast Telegraph

Mannus set for Northern Ireland competitive debut

By Stuart McKinley

Alan Mannus could make his competitive debut for Northern Ireland in the next two weeks, nine years after winning his first cap.

Kyle Lafferty, however, is ruled out of next Friday's match in Azerbaijan as a consequence of his red card against Portugal last month.

And the striker is also unlikely to face Israel the following Tuesday after being left on the stand-by list by manager Michael O'Neill.

St Johnstone goalkeeper Mannus, who played against Trinidad and Tobago in 2004, could get his chance in Baku or Tel Aviv, with regular No.1 Roy Carroll currently out of favour at Greek club Olympiakos.

"I have to look at Roy's situation, obviously it's not an ideal one for him," said O'Neill.

"He isn't playing at Olympiakos – he's third choice, possibly lower than that – and it's difficult because he can't get away. Obviously, he can't get out before January.

"Alan has done very well at St Johnstone and he's come off the back of an injury as well.

"Tommy Wright keeps me updated on how he is progressing and there is a possibility that we might look at the two games and there might be an opportunity for Alan to play."

Lafferty has already served an automatic one-match suspension after being sent-off for a wild tackle on Portugal's Joao Pereira.

Fifa have now added an extra game onto that ban.

"Kyle Lafferty is just on stand-by for the second game," O'Neill confirmed.

"If you look at the campaign, I think Martin Paterson and Jamie Ward are giving us more at this time. We actually thought that it might have been a three-match suspension for Kyle."

e NORTHERN Ireland goalkeeper Trevor Carson has joined Portsmouth on a three-month loan from Bury.

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