Northern Ireland chase first World Cup qualifying win at home to Azerbaijan
Northern Ireland take on Azerbaijan at Windsor Park chasing their first World Cup qualifying win.
Last Updated: 14/11/12 4:41pm
Michael O'Neill's men currently sit fourth, ten points behind leaders Russia, after taking two points from their opening three games.
The first of those points was a disappointing home draw with minnows Luxembourg, but their second was a fine 1-1 draw away at Portugal last month, easily their best display under O'Neill, who took over last December.
The 43-year-old former Shamrock Rovers manager has yet to taste victory in his six games in charge so far and with no qualifier scheduled after this until March, he will be desperate to sign off for the year with three points.
Azerbaijan, managed by former Scotland boss Berti Vogts, began their campaign with a draw at home to Israel in September but successive defeats to Portugal and Russia leave them joint bottom of the group.
The latest set of FIFA rankings places them 123rd in the world, 23 places behind Northern Ireland.
O'Neill will have to do without the services of Peterborough midfielder Grant McCann, who left the squad to be with his pregnant wife. He is the fifth player to withdraw from the original 24-man squad following the departures of Jonny Evans, Alex Bruce, Andy Little and Jamie Ward.
Ryan McGivern faces a late fitness test while flu-victim Aaron Hughes will also be assessed before O'Neill names his starting XI. Chris Brunt and Shane Ferguson are back in contention after missing the Portugal game through injury, while Dean Shiels is also pushing for a recall.