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Wylie's girls ready for tough Euro 2017 warm-up matches

By Stuart McKinley

The Northern Ireland women's team will face four testing friendlies in the next week as they continue their build-up to the Euro 2017 qualifying campaign.

Although the qualifying draw for the tournament, which will take place in Holland in two years' time, won't be made until mid-April, Alfie Wylie is determined to have his players as well prepared as possible when the matches begin in September.

After facing Scotland in Belfast last month, Northern Ireland have headed to Croatia, where they will take part in the Istria Women's Cup.

The first game is tomorrow, against Poland, before facing Romania on Friday and the hosts next Monday. They will play as yet unknown opponents in a play-off match tomorrow week.

Wylie is, however, travelling without a large number of regular players in his squad.

Nadene Caldwell, Simone Magill, Demi Vance, Rachel Furness, Sarah Venney, Jessica Doran and Lynda Shepherd are all missing the trip, meaning the squad is short of over 200 caps worth of experience.

That has presented an opportunity for three members of the under-19 squad, who will play in the Elite phase of the European Championship qualifiers in early April, to gain valuable experience.

Chelsea Myles, Chloe McCarron and Annie Timoney all step up to join Aimee Makin, who has already won seven senior caps.

NORTHERN IRELAND WOMEN'S SQUAD: Emma Higgins (Grindavik), Tiarna McKenna (Cliftonville Ladies), Alison Smith (Crusaders Strikers), Ashley Hutton (Linfield Ladies), Julie Nelson (Durham Ladies), Jessica Foy (Glentoran Belfast United), Chelsea Myles (Linfield Ladies), Ellie Butterwick (Watford Ladies), Hayley Crackle (Aston Villa Ladies), Clare Timoney (Ballymena United Allstars), Aoife Lennon (Newry City Ladies), Danielle McDowell (Crusaders Strikers), Danielle Ennis (Linfield Ladies), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Chloe McCarron (Mid Ulster Ladies), Lauren Wade (Glentoran Belfast United), Kirsty McGuinness (Linfield Ladies), Catherine Hyndman (Castlebar Celtic), Annie Timoney (Glentoran Belfast United), Aimee Mackin (Newry City Ladies).

Fixtures: Wednesday March 4: v Poland, Friday March 6: v Romania, Monday March 9: v Croatia, Wednesday March 11: v TBC

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