Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland squad: Jamal Lewis one of two uncapped players included in panel to face South Korea

By Gareth Hanna

Jamal Lewis has been called up as Michael O'Neill names his Northern Ireland squad to face South Korea.

The Norwich man hit the headlines with an FA Cup goal against Chelsea in January. The only other uncapped player in the squad is Celtic goalkeeper, on loan at Falkirk, Conor Hazard.

"Conor Hazard is a goalkeeper that we have high hopes for," said O'Neill. "He trained with the senior squad last June. We have three young keepers in Hazard, (Conor) Mitchell and Bailey (Peacock-Farrell). The three will be rotated and managed between the Under 21s and senior side going forward.

"Jamal Lewis is a young player with huge potential and it's great that he's part of the senior squad."

There is no place in the squad for Chris Brunt or for forwards Will Grigg or Paul Smyth.

The manager explained that Brunt has taken a break from international football, with speculation surrounding whether or not he will retire to concentrate on club football.

"I said to him not to make any rash decisions too early," said O'Neill. "He won't do that anyway. Chris has his club situation to focus on. It's a difficult position that West Bromwich are in at the minute. That dialogue will remain open and we'll see come September where he is then."

O'Neill confirmed that Grigg was left out to concentrate on Wigan's promotion push, with League One fixtures scheduled for the same date as the Northern Ireland friendly. The boss also said that Smyth was included in the U21 squad, who are second in their group and face Spain. With both teams playing in Belfast, however, O'Neill hinted that Smyth could yet be drafted into the senior panel.

Liam Boyce returns to the squad after making a successful return to action with Burton Albion following an ACL injury. Boyce has started three of his side's last four Championship games.

O'Neill said: "I'm delighted Liam's fit. He hasn't been in due to his injury but he's made great progress. He's coming in as his club is fighting to stay in the Championship. We've had him watched, we know he has been playing well."

Not in the panel are Sean Goss and Sean Scannell. Both players had been linked with international switches to Northern Ireland and it had been rumoured that they could be included in the squad.

Northern Ireland host South Korea in an international friendly at the National Stadium at Windsor Park on Saturday, March 24.

Northern Ireland squad to face South Korea

Goalkeepers: Michael McGovern (Norwich City), Trevor Carson (Motherwell), Conor Hazard (Falkirk).

Defenders: Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (West Brom), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Paddy McNair (Sunderland), Jamal Lewis (Norwich City).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Oliver Norwood (Fulham), Corry Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), George Saville (Millwall), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock).

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Hearts), Josh Magennis (Charlton Athletic), Jamie Ward (Cardiff City on loan), Conor Washington (QPR), Liam Boyce (Burton Albion).

Watch Michael O'Neill's press conference here:

LIVE: Michael O'Neill announces his squad to face South Korea. ⚽ MON on eligibility issue ➡...

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Monday, March 12, 2018

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