West Brom's Gareth McAuley returns to Northern Ireland squad for World Cup Qualifiers
Last Updated: 25/09/17 2:43pm
West Brom's Gareth McAuley is back in Northern Ireland's squad for the World Cup Qualifiers against Germany and Norway next month, while Millwall's George Saville and Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones have received their first call-ups.
Defender McAuley, 37, missed the World Cup qualifying victories over San Marino and the Czech Republic with a thigh problem which resurfaced in the first half of the game against Azerbaijan in June.
He returned for the Baggies in last week's Carabao Cup tie against Manchester City and will now come back to a Northern Irish defensive unit which has kept seven clean sheets in eight qualifiers - more than any other European nation.
Saville, 24, who came through Chelsea's academy, qualifies to represent O'Neill's team through his grandmother.
Killie's Jones, 22, had previously represented Northern Ireland at youth level but withdrew himself from consideration as a teenager due to his eligibility for England.
He has since made a U-turn on that decision and was part of a Northern Ireland training squad earlier this summer.
There is still no place for Watford's Craig Cathcart, Sunderland's Paddy McNair and Nottingham Forest's Jamie Ward due to injury, while boss Michael O'Neill has left out Wigan striker Will Grigg once again.
O'Neill was in attendance when Grigg scored his first goal since January against Bristol Rovers earlier this month, but he has stuck with the quartet of Hearts' Kyle Lafferty, Josh Magennis of Charlton, QPR's Conor Washington and Shay McCartan of Bradford.
Northern Ireland host world champions Germany on October 5, before concluding their group campaign against Norway in Oslo three days later, both live on Sky Sports.
O'Neill's men have guaranteed at least second place in Group C and look primed to claim one of the eight play-off berths on offer, with a two-legged tie in November standing between those countries and a place in Russia next summer.
Goalkeepers: McGovern (Norwich City), Mannus (St Johnstone), Carroll (Linfield)
Defenders: Hughes (Hearts), G McAuley (West Brom), Evans (West Brom), Brunt (West Brom), C McLaughlin (Millwall), Hodson (Rangers), A Thompson (Bradford City loan), D Lafferty (Sheffield United), Flanagan (Burton Albion)
Midfielders: Davis (Southampton), McGinn (Gwangju), Norwood (Fulham loan), C Evans (Blackburn), Ferguson (Millwall), Dallas (Leeds), Lund (Burton Albion), Paton (St Johnstone), J Jones (Kilmarnock), G Saville (Millwall)
Strikers: K Lafferty (Hearts), Magennis (Charlton), Washington (QPR), McCartan (Bradford City)