Lafferty left out of Northern Ireland squad
The 31-year-old’s lack of game time was key to the decision.
Kyle Lafferty has been left out of Northern Ireland’s squad for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany and the preceding friendly against Luxembourg following his move to Norwegian club Sarpsborg this week.
Liam Donnelly, Northern Ireland’s most capped under-21 international, is back in the senior set-up after an impressive start to the season with Motherwell, while there is also a return for Ross County defender Callum Morris.
But there is no place for Lafferty, nor his former Rangers team-mate Gareth McAuley, who is without a club after be released at the end of the season.
Michael O’Neill indicated Lafferty’s lack of game time was key to the decision, with the 31-year-old only completing his move on Tuesday after being released by Rangers earlier this summer.
“Kyle hasn’t played enough football,” O’Neill said. “He also has a new club and we wouldn’t want to risk him getting injured.
“The same applies with Gareth. He hasn’t played a competitive game since February.”
Donnelly, 23, made his senior debut five years ago against Chile but has not appeared again since, instead becoming a stalwart of the under-21 set up as he gained 24 caps.
This season he has moved from defence to midfield for Motherwell with outstanding results, scoring seven goals in seven appearances so far this campaign.
Morris gets his first call up since 2017 following an injury to Arsenal’s Daniel Ballard, who is on loan at Swindon.
“It’s a shame about Daniel,” O’Neill said. “He got injured in a game and didn’t notice. He’s gone back to Arsenal.
“But we have Callum Morris who has done well and integrated well before.”
There is no place for Linfield’s Shayne Lavery despite the 20-year-old’s brace against Qarabag in the Europa League last week.
That leaves O’Neill with a group of four strikers comprising Liam Boyce, who scored a hat-trick for Burton in the League Cup on Tuesday, Josh Magennis, Conor Washington and Paul Smyth.
Motherwell goalkeeper Trevor Carson is back in the group ahead of Conor Hazard, with Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Michael McGovern the other options between the posts.
Northern Ireland face Luxembourg on September 5 before playing Germany on September 9, with both matches at Windsor Park.
Northern Ireland squad: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Michael McGovern (Norwich), Trevor Carson (Motherwell); Jonny Evans (Leicester), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Conor McLaughlin (Sunderland), Jamal Lewis (Norwich), Michael Smith (Hearts), Tom Flanagan (Sunderland), Callum Morris (Ross County); Steven Davis (Rangers), Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), Corry Evans (Blackburn), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), George Saville (Middlesbrough), Jordan Jones (Rangers), Gavin Whyte (Cardiff), Jordan Thompson (Blackpool), Liam Donnelly (Motherwell); Josh Magennis (Hull), Conor Washington (Hearts), Liam Boyce (Burton), Paul Smyth (Wycombe).