Northern Ireland vs USA: Conor Hazard to make first international start in place of Bailey Peacock-Farrell

Conor Hazard to start in goal for Northern Ireland against USA on Sunday; Dion Charles likely to make debut, with Kyle Lafferty set to captain side and Jamal Lewis back in training; watch Northern Ireland vs USA on Sunday, live on Sky Sports from 4:55pm; kick-off 5:05pm

SNS: Conor Hazard
Image: Conor Hazard's previous appearance for Northern Ireland came nearly three years ago

Conor Hazard will make his first start for Northern Ireland against the USA, Ian Baraclough has told Sky Sports News.

Baraclough says his decision to start the Celtic goalkeeper in the friendly against the USA on Sunday - live on Sky Sports - was made ahead of Northern Ireland's previous fixture, against Italy.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell was chosen to start in goal for the 2022 World Cup Qualifier. He received criticism for his performance in Northern Ireland's 2-0 defeat, although Baraclough says he is happy with the Burnley keeper's development.

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"There'll be a brand new feel to it," Baraclough told Sky Sports News. "Conor Hazard will come in for Bailey, and that decision was made before the other night, before people start getting on Bailey's back.

"He'll come in and make his first start, which is great. I think three games in a window is tough, and I won't be asking players to go in and fulfil three 90 minutes at all.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell (PA pic) 0:27
Northern Ireland goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell was criticised in some quarters for his display against Italy - but his team mate George Saville says the squad think the Burnley number one has done a great job for the team.

"I've spoken to [Peacock-Farrell], and he knows what I think about him. He's a top keeper. He's not playing regularly for his club, so we've got to help him as much as possible.

"It can be a lonely life for a goalkeeper, you can be the hero one game and have people calling you all sorts of names another. He has to build that bank of experience up as well, how to deal with it, and we're there to help him along."

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Hazard's only previous appearance for his country came in a friendly against Costa Rica in June 2018, when he was subbed on in the 73rd minute with his side already 3-0 down in San Jose.

Highlights of Italy vs Northern Ireland from FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C

The 23-year-old has played only six times for Celtic this season, with his most recent appearance coming in their 0-0 draw at home to Livingston in January.

The highlight of the 23-year-old's season so far will no doubt be saving two penalties in Celtic's shootout victory over Hearts in the final of the 2019/20 Scottish Cup, which was delayed until December.

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Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough says Sunday's friendly with the USA provides his side's fringe players an opportunity to stake a claim for first-team selection.

As well as Hazard, Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles is also expected to feature for Northern Ireland against the USA. The 25-year-old - who was born in England - is with the squad for the first time, and is set to make his debut at Windsor Park.

Charles' fellow striker Kyle Lafferty, who scored three goals in his last four games for Kilmarnock, will captain the side for the first time.

Kyle Lafferty 0:23
Kyle Lafferty says captaining Northern Ireland for the first time in Sunday's friendly against USA at Windsor Park will be one of the highlights of his career.

"To be honest I think I need a goal for Northern Ireland, it's been a while," Lafferty told Sky Sports News. "I enter every game confident I can score.

"I know I'm going to get chances from the players I play with, but it's just getting that feeling of the ball hitting the back of the net for my country again."

Meanwhile, Newcastle defender Jamal Lewis could be fit to play after returning to training following the groin problem that kept him out of the Italy defeat.

Following Sunday's friendly against the USA, Northern Ireland will resume their World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Bulgaria on Wednesday, also live on Sky Sports.

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