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Former Saints trainee wins international call
11:14am Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Sport
Uncapped former Saints academy product Ben Reeves has been called up by Northern Ireland for next month's friendly in Cyprus.
Reeves, 22, now at MK Dons, is the only new face in manager Michael O'Neill's 22-man squad for the March 5 match in Nicosia. Steven Davis will again captain the side.
The England-born player, who started his career with Southampton, has not previously represented Northern Ireland at age-group level but wins a place in the senior squad having scored 10 times in 31 club appearances this season.
O'Neill is without injured Manchester United centre-half Jonny Evans, with former captain Aaron Hughes and the unattached former Saints FA Cup finalist Chris Baird also missing from the defence.
But the backline is bolstered by the return of West Brom's Gareth McAuley, who missed his country's previous two matches through suspension and personal reasons.
Palermo striker Kyle Lafferty is also back, selected for the first time since being sent off for a reckless challenge in the 4-2 defeat by Portugal last September.
The squad lacks a specialist right-back with Reeves' MK Dons team-mate Lee Hodson out injured, but Hull's Alex Bruce is the most versatile option among six defenders.
Barnsley winger Pat McCourt and Rangers striker Dean Shiels are both selected, having been peripheral figures during O'Neill's first qualifying campaign.
Northern Ireland squad to play Cyprus on March 5, Nicosia: R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), M McGovern (Falkirk), D Lafferty (Burnley), R McGivern (Hibernian), G McAuley (West Brom), R McArdle (Bradford), C Cathcart (Blackpool), A Bruce (Hull), S Ferguson (Newcastle), S Davis (Capt, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Brunt (West Brom), S Clingan (Kilmarnock), P McCourt (Barnsley), B Reeves (MK Dons), N McGinn (Aberdeen), B McKay (Inverness), M Paterson (Huddersfield), J Ward (Derby), D Shiels (Rangers), K Lafferty (Palermo).
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