Euro 2020: Grigg and Washington back for opening Northern Ireland qualifiers

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Euro 2020: Grigg and Washington back for opening Northern Ireland qualifiers
Conor Washington and Will Grigg return after missing a number of Northern Ireland games

Strikers Will Grigg and Conor Washington return to the Northern Ireland squad for the opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus.

Sunderland’s Grigg has missed Northern Ireland’s last three games because of injury with Washington unavailable for personal reasons since last September.

Uncapped Arsenal youngster Daniel Ballard, 19, is given a first call-up.

Washington’s Sheffield United team-mate Oliver Norwood will miss the opening qualifiers for personal reasons.

Estonia travel to Belfast for the first Group C match on Thursday, 21 March and Belarus also visit the National Stadium at Windsor Park three days later.

Goalkeeper Trevor Carson and full-back Michael Smith are unavailable because of injury.

Defender Ballard, who is a regular in Arsenal’s under-23 team, has earned four under-21 caps.

One of his under-21 appearances saw Ballard score a late winner in a qualifier against Iceland last October.

Motherwell keeper Carson’s absence as he continues to recover from deep vein thrombosis means Leeds’ Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Norwich’s Michael McGovern and Conor Hazard will battle for the goalkeeper’s jersey.

Hearts defender Michael Smith misses out because of a thigh injury sustained last month.

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: McGovern (Norwich City), Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United), Hazard (Patrick Thistle – loan from Celtic)

Defenders: Hughes (Hearts), McAuley (Rangers), J Evans (Leicester City), Cathcart (Watford), C McLaughlin (Millwall), McNair (Middlesbrough), Lewis (Norwich City), Flanagan (Sunderland), Ballard (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Davis (Rangers – on loan from Southampton), McGinn (Aberdeen), C Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Ferguson (Millwall), Dallas (Leeds United), Saville (Middlesbrough, loan), Jones (Kilmarnock), Whyte (Oxford United), Thompson (Blackpool)

Forwards: Lafferty (Rangers), Magennis (Bolton Wanderers), Boyce (Burton Albion), Smyth (Accrington Stanley – on loan from QPR), Grigg (Sunderland), Washington (Sheffield United)

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