Belfast Telegraph

Dunfermline defender added to Northern Ireland panel as Hughes ruled out

 

Dunfermline defender Callum Morris has been called up to the Northern Ireland squad to face Germany and Norway, according to reports.

Aaron Hughes will miss Thursday's game against the World champions and Sunday's tie in Norway with a calf injury, leaving Northern Ireland short in defensive options - Gareth McAuley only recently having returned from his thigh problem.

The 108-cap defender, 37, came off just seven minutes into Hearts' defeat to Dundee at the weekend with a calf problem he had been struggling with before the game.

Hughes met up with the rest of Michael O'Neill's squad in Belfast but did not train on Monday and a day later it was confirmed he would not be available to face the Germans on Thursday or the Norwegians on Sunday.

Morris has been added to Michael O'Neill's panel for NI's last two World Cup qualifying matches. The 27 year-old has been part of the senior NI set-up before, called up for games against the Czech Republic and Germany last year. He has, however, yet to win a cap for NI, having played for the Republic of Ireland's Under 19 and Under 21 teams.

“It’s all down to consistency and the main thing is how I do here," Morris said last week. "If Northern Ireland comes along that would be amazing; they’ve done brilliantly but I can only focus on myself, and I can’t complain at the minute."

Morris has started seven of Dunfermline's eight Scottish Championship matches so far this season, helping his club to third place in the table.

O'Neill's men are savouring the prospect of facing the Germans on Thursday but while Northern Ireland are eagerly anticipating the World Cup qualifier, Joachim Low's squad will arrive in Belfast having suffered a triple injury blow.

Key striker Timo Werner was yesterday ruled out of the Windsor clash with a 'neck muscle injury' and his absence follows the news that world class midfielders Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira won't be playing against Northern Ireland either due to knee and thigh issues respectively.

Germany's Bayern Munich big hitters are also having to deal with accusations swirling around that player power cost respected coach Carlo Ancelotti his job at the Allianz Arena.

There have been suggestions in Germany that World Cup heroes Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng were among the Bayern players undermining Ancelotti's reign which ended last week.

It's hardly ideal preparation for Germany while Northern Ireland's self-belief is rising.

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