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Derby forward Jamie Ward ruled out of Northern Ireland squad for World Cup qualifiers

Updated: Sunday, 17 Mar 2013 21:52 | Comments

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill (right) has called Josh Magennis into the squad as cover for Jamie Ward
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill (right) has called Josh Magennis into the squad as cover for Jamie Ward

Derby forward Jamie Ward has been ruled out of Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying double header next week, with Josh Magennis replacing him.

Ward, who has four caps and was in line to feature in home clashes against Russia and Israel, started on Saturday against Leicester but lasted just 63 minutes.

The 26-year-old has suffered a string of injuries in the last couple of seasons and managed only 20 appearances for the Rams this term.

In that time he has still scored 11 goals and would have been under strong consideration by manager Michael O'Neill, particularly for Friday's clash against Russia, which first-choice striker Kyle Lafferty misses through suspension.

Martin Paterson, back after a brief self-imposed international break, will now be favourite to lead the line at Windsor Park.

But O'Neill has also given himself additional cover by adding Aberdeen's Magennis to the group.

The versatile 22-year-old can play at full-back and in midfield but also offers a physical aspect in attack.

He came on as a late substitute in last month's friendly against Malta but had not been named in O'Neill's initial squad.

He returns to the fold with confidence high, though, having scored twice for the Dons in a 4-3 defeat at Celtic on Saturday.

A statement from the Irish FA read: "Injury has forced Jamie Ward to withdraw from the Northern Ireland squad. Aberdeen's Josh Magennis has been called up to the squad for the World Cup Qualifiers against Russia and Israel."

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