Midfielder Mark Sykes has been given his first Northern Ireland call-up for the Euro 2020 qualifiers in Estonia and Belarus.

The Oxford United player is named by manager Michael O’Neill after taking part in the recent training camp in Manchester.

Hearts full-back Michael Smith returns after injury, while former captain Aaron Hughes retains his place.

O’Neill’s side face Estonia on 8 June and play Belarus three days later.

Northern Ireland are top of Group C after beating both of their upcoming opponents at home in their opening two qualifiers in March.

Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn is missing after suffering ankle ligament damage in training in April.

Striker Will Grigg, who suffered League One play-off final disappointment with Sunderland on 26 May, is not selected. He was named in the squad for the March qualifiers but pulled out injured before the games.

There is no place for Motherwell goalkeeper Trevor Carson, who had been called up for the training camp after recovering from deep vein thrombosis.

Estonia and Belarus have yet to win a point, with the latter sitting bottom of the table.

Germany, who come to Belfast to play Northern Ireland in September, are second in the table, although they have only played one match.

The Northern Ireland players have been training in Manchester during the last 10 days ahead of their first away matches of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: McGovern (Norwich City), Peacock-Farrell (Leeds United), Hazard (Celtic).

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

Midfielders: Davis (Rangers), C Evans (Blackburn Rovers), Ferguson (Millwall), Dallas (Leeds United), Saville (Middlesbrough, loan), Jones (Rangers), Whyte (Oxford United), Thompson (Blackpool), Sykes (Oxford United).

Forwards: Lafferty (Rangers), Magennis (Bolton Wanderers), Boyce (Burton Albion), Smyth (Queens Park Rangers), Washington (unattached).


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