Wigan striker Will Grigg named in pre-Euro 2016 Northern Ireland squad by Michael O'Neill
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 18/05/16 6:52pm
Wigan striker Will Grigg has returned to the Northern Ireland squad for their final friendly before they name their 23-man Euro 2016 squad.
The in-form 24-year-old has been recalled by Michael O'Neill for next Friday's game with Belarus having been omitted from the squad that faced Wales and Slovenia in March so he could concentrate on Latics' promotion push.
Chris Baird and Corry Evans, who were injured two months ago, have also been named in O'Neill's 28-man group while QPR striker Conor Washington and Peterborough defender Michael Smith are included once more after making their international bows during the last round of friendlies.
Defender Aaron Hughes, 36, will make his 99th international appearance should he feature against Belarus and has the chance to bring up his century in Slovakia on June 4.
O'Neill must cut five players from this squad for his country's first international tournament in 30 years and the identity of his forwards may have occupied much of his thinking.
Kyle Lafferty is fit again after a hamstring injury and looks to be a certainty, while Washington may have sealed his place after scoring in a win over Slovenia that extended Northern Ireland's unbeaten run to a record 10 matches.
Josh Magennis also appears likely to get the nod, leaving Grigg, Liam Boyce and Billy McKay to fight it out for the last place, with all three expected to be part of the extended squad to face Belarus.
O'Neill's final decision over his forwards may have been affected by his preferred formation, having moved between a 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 in recent fixtures.
"We will use the Belarus game to look at our options, our systems and how we play," O'Neill said. "It's also a chance to look at personnel and to give players opportunities.
"We are on a good run at the minute and we want to continue that run. It is important that we approach the match in the same way as we have approached all our other games since qualification."
Neither Dundee United's Paul Paton or Luton's Paddy McCourt have been included while West Brom's Chris Brunt will miss the Euros with a knee injury.
Northern Ireland squad: McGovern (Hamilton), Carroll (Notts County), Mannus (St. Johnstone), Cathcart (Watford), McAuley (West Brom), J Evans (Manchester United), McCullough (Doncaster), Hughes (Melbourne), D Lafferty (Burnley), McLaughlin (Fleetwood), Smith (Peterborough), Hodson (MK Dons), McNair (Manchester United), Ferguson (Millwall), Dallas (Leeds), Davis (Southampton), Norwood (Reading), Baird (Derby), C Evans (Blackburn), Reeves (MK Dons), McGinn (Aberdeen), McKay (Wigan), Boyce (Ross County), Magennis (Kilmarnock), K Lafferty (Norwich), Ward (Nottingham Forest), Washington (QPR), Grigg (Wigan).