Liam Boyce gets Northern Ireland call-up as Hearts striker retains place in much-changed squad

Hearts striker Liam Boyce has been named in Ian Baraclough’s Northern Ireland squad for two closed-doors friendly matches against Malta and Ukraine.
Liam Boyce has been called into the Northern Ireland squadLiam Boyce has been called into the Northern Ireland squad
Liam Boyce has been called into the Northern Ireland squad

The 30-year-old, who struck 14 goals as Hearts won the Scottish Championship title, keeps his place in the group despite a raft of changes with several senior players omitted.

Former Tynecastle forward Conor Washington is not included while Boyce’s team-mate Michael Smith also misses out. Veteran Rangers midfielder Steven Davis is another who will sit out the double-header although there is a recall for Ibrox winger Jordan Jones and Kilmarnock forward Kyle Lafferty retains his place in the squad.

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St Johnstone midfielder Ali McCann, who helped his side to an historic cup double this season, is named as art of the midfield collective alongside Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn while Celtic’s Conor Hazard is one of three goalkeepers included.

Northern Ireland face Malta in Klagenfurt, Austria on Sunday, May 30 before travelling to Dnipro to take on Ukraine on Thursday, June 3.

Goalkeepers: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Conor Hazard (Celtic), Liam Hughes (Liverpool).

Defenders: Craig Cathcart (Watford), Stuart Dallas (Leeds United), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), Daniel Ballard (Arsenal – on loan at Blackpool), Ciaron Brown (Cardiff City), Sam McClelland (Chelsea), Conor Bradley (Liverpool).

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Midfielders: Niall McGinn (Aberdeen), George Saville (Middlesbrough), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City), Alistair McCann (St Johnstone), Alfie McCalmont (Leeds United), Jordan Jones (Rangers), Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City), Ethan Galbraith (Manchester United).

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Kilmarnock), Josh Magennis (Hull City), Liam Boyce (Heart of Midlothian), Shayne Lavery (Linfield), Dion Charles (Accrington Stanley), Paul Smyth (Queens Park Rangers).

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