Belfast Telegraph

Boss admits Evans and Magennis will struggle to make Norway tie

By Graham Luney

Corry Evans is keen to feature for Northern Ireland in Sunday night's crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Norway but boss Michael O'Neill fears the game will come too soon for the midfielder.

Evans has not played in over two months with his ongoing groin issue but his club Blackburn Rovers are fine with his selection.

O'Neill, however, knows the 26-year-old is not able to perform for 90 minutes and it appears unlikely the former Shamrock Rovers chief will turn to the ex-Hull City man for the Group C showdown.

"No, I don't think he could," admitted O'Neill when asked if Evans could play a whole game.

"We don't expect that. In the next 24 hours, we just have to see how he is, whether he's going to be able to be included or not.

"As usual Corry was very keen to play.

"He's only played 45 minutes with the reserves on Monday so it's been a long time for him.

"We knew that he wouldn't be fit to start the game but he would be in a position if we needed him for 15, 20 minutes.

"We'll have to assess that in the next 24 hours."

Charlton Athletic striker Josh Magennis is another injury concern after he tweaked a hamstring which has prevented him from training this week.

O'Neill added: "The first two days are a case of getting everyone in.

"We've worked the last two days, nothing too intense, we've an extra day but we'll work tomorrow and see how we are Friday, train Saturday and we'll be ready to play.

"I've a team in my head, it's just a case of between now and Sunday getting it on the pitch.

"We're not too bad. We've one or two concerns, mainly players that came in with a concern - Corry, Josh Magennis, niggling injuries.

"Liam Boyce got a bang on Saturday, it's a case of monitoring those players and they've been pretty much off their feet with training, they've just been with the medical team the opening two or three days.

"We knew in the case of Corry and Josh that that would be the case. We're as strong as we can be given the players we knew were out from the start."

Sheffield United defender Daniel Lafferty was called into the squad on Monday.

The 27-year-old left-back made his international debut in 2012 and has won 13 caps for his country.

O'Neill is without Will Grigg for the Norway encounter after the Wigan Athletic striker was ruled out with a knee injury.

Shane Ferguson is also an absentee, with the versatile Millwall player serving a suspension.

After this battle, Northern Ireland's next competitive fixture is away to Azerbaijan on June 10.

Belfast Telegraph

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