04/09/2001

Sunderland defender joins NI football squad for World Cup Qualifier

George McCartney is set to make his first appearance for the Northern Ireland senior side on Wednesday night against Iceland at Windsor Park.

The 20-year-old Sunderland full-back will come into the centre of the defence as replacement for Colin Murdock who is suspended after picking up his second yellow card of the campaign in Denmark on Saturday.

The rest of the Northern Ireland team looks set to remain the same for the visit of the Icelanders who need a win on Wednesday if they are to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive.

Northern Ireland, of course, are unable to reach next year’s finals after a disappointing qualifying campaign with only one win so far.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Under-21 boss Roy Millar has claimed that scrapping the Under-21 team to cut costs would be a "backward step".

The future of the side has been put into question recently because of the Irish Football Association's mounting losses thanks to tiny crowds at games and the IFA's limited finances since the team was set up in 1998.

Millar, though, has said that the side was vital for the development of Northern Ireland's senior team which already includes nine former under-21 players out of McIlroy's 18-strong party for Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Iceland. (MB)

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