World Cup: Martin Paterson rules himself out of Northern Ireland squad to face Azerbaijan
Burnley's Martin Paterson ruled himself out of Northern Ireland's squad for the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.
Last Updated: 05/11/12 3:37pm
Paterson missed last month's battling 1-1 draw in Portugal due to "ongoing fitness issues" and there are question marks about his international future after he again opted out of the match at Windsor Park, despite playing and scoring at the weekend.
"The conversation we had with Martin last time was that he was not available and that he would come back to me when he was," said manager Michael O'Neill.
"I would like Martin to be available and I've selected him every time he has been.
"I still think he could be a very important player for us but he is wary because of his injury problems and I understand his reasons."
O'Neill has picked six other players who can play as forwards with FC Sion's Kyle Lafferty expected to be first choice and support comes from the likes of record scorer David Healy, Rangers' Dean Shiels and Walsall's Will Grigg.
Derby's Jamie Ward and Andy Little of Rangers could also feature in the forward line, but they have been used in midfield by their country.
Northern Ireland were without a number of their key players in Porto, but they can welcome back West Brom centre-half Gareth McAuley following suspension, while club team-mate Chris Brunt, Grant McCann and Shane Ferguson all return from injury.
Hull City's Alex Bruce won two friendly caps for the Republic of Ireland in 2007, but he never played in a competitive fixture and was called up again after an injury forced him out of the Portugal trip.
Hibernian centre-back James McPake misses out despite his side's fine start to the Scottish Premier League season, with O'Neill instead opting for McAuley, Jonny Evans, Craig Cathcart and Aaron Hughes.
There was also no place for Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Lee Camp, who appears to be continuing his self-imposed exile after falling behind Roy Carroll in the pecking order at the start of the qualifying campaign.
Northern Ireland squad: R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), M McGovern (Falkirk), A Hughes (Fulham), R McGivern (Man City), J Evans (Man Utd), C Cathcart (Blackpool), G McAuley ( West Brom), A Bruce (Hull), C Baird (Fulham), S Davis (capt, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Evans (Hull), N McGinn (Aberdeen), P McCourt (Celtic), C Brunt (West Brom), S Ferguson (Newcastle), G McCann (Peterborough), D Healy (Bury), D Shiels (Rangers), K Lafferty (Sion), W Grigg (Walsall), J Ward (Derby), A Little (Rangers).