Northern Ireland: Whyte and McGeehan called up for Central American tour

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Northern Ireland must expand playing pool - Michael O'Neill

Crusaders' Gavin Whyte and Scunthorpe loanee Cameron McGeehan have been called up for Northern Ireland's games in Panama and Costa Rica.

A somewhat under-strength squad sees experienced captain Steven Davis rested for the trip to Central America.

Kyle Lafferty, Michael McGovern, Jamie Ward and Conor Washington will also miss the tour.

Uncapped Leeds goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell is included although he has been in previous squads.

Whyte, 22, and fellow midfielder McGeehan, 23, have both been capped at Under-21 level.

Whyte won both the Northern Ireland Football Writers' player of the year and young player awards this season
Whyte is being tipped for a cross-channel move after helping Crusaders win the Irish Premiership

McGeehan has been on loan at League One Scunthorpe from Barnsley since January and scored the Iron's equaliser in their play-off semi-final first leg against Rotherham. The second leg takes place on Wednesday evening.

Whyte wins player of the year awards

Whyte won both the Northern Ireland Football Writers' player of the year and young player awards this season and is being strongly tipped for a cross-channel move this summer.

"We have watched Gavin Whyte for the last three years," said Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill. "He's on the verge of a move to England and we hope this inclusion helps him.

"Cameron has been in our youth set-up, he's a player that has been injury hit. It's a chance for a fresh face to come and see what he's about."

West Brom pair Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley have been selected but their club-mate Chris Brunt is not included as he continues to weigh up his international future.

West Brom defenders Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley have been regular fixtures in the Northern Ireland defene
West Brom defenders Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley will both travel to Central America

Skipper Davis misses out having played just 32 minutes of football for Southampton since February.

Norwich's Jamal Lewis is also absent after making his debut against South Korea in March while Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones is unavailable after undergoing groin surgery earlier this month.

QPR's Paul Smyth will travel to Central America after hitting Northern Ireland's winner against South Korea. They face Panama, who will be in England's World Cup group, on 30 May before meeting Costa Rica in San Jose on 3 June.

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Carson (Motherwell), Hazard (Celtic - loan Falkirk), Peacock-Farrell (Leeds).

Defenders: Cathcart (Watford), J. Evans (West Brom), Hodson (Rangers), Hughes (Hearts), McAuley (West Brom), McCullough (Doncaster), McLaughlin (Millwall).

Midfielders: Dallas (Leeds), C. Evans (Blackburn), Ferguson (Millwall), McGeehan (Barnsley - loan Scunthorpe), McNair (Sunderland), Norwood (Brighton - loan Fulham), Saville (Millwall), Whyte (Crusaders).

Forwards: Boyce (Burton), Magennis (Charlton), McCartan (Bradford), Smyth (QPR).

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