World Cup qualifiers: Simone Magill returns to Northern Ireland squad for England and Austria games

Simone Magill played a key role in Northern Ireland historic qualification for Euro 2022
Simone Magill played a key role in Northern Ireland historic qualification for Euro 2022

Everton striker Simone Magill has been named in Northern Ireland's squad for October's Women's World Cup qualifiers with England and Austria.

Magill, 26, missed September's opening Group D wins over Luxembourg and Latvia through injury.

Midfielder Joely Andrews is named in the 23-player squad after impressing in the Glentoran's treble bid this season.

Northern Ireland play England at Wembley on 23 October before hosting Austria four days later.

Kenny Shiels' side made the perfect start to the qualification campaign with 4-0 victories at home to minnows Luxembourg and Latvia in September.

The return of Magill, who played a key role in April's historic Euro 2022 play-off win over Ukraine, is a boost for Northern Ireland before the upcoming qualifiers against sides ranked significantly higher in the world.

While the game against England, ranked eighth in the world, is highly anticipated, the following fixture against Austria could play a pivotal role in NI's World Cup hopes with the two sides tipped to battle it out for second place and a play-off spot.

Austria, who are ranked 27 places higher than NI in in 21st, defeated Latvia 8-1 and North Macedonia 6-0 in their opening two games.

Cliftonville defender Toni-Leigh Finnegan, Glentoran winger Casey Howe and Glens midfielder Sam Kelly are missing through injury, while Rangers' Megan Bell and Linfield duo Ashley Hutton and Abbie Magee are still recovering from long-term injuries.

Forwards Caitlin McGuinness and Danielle Maxwell are not included after featuring in September's wins.

England strong in every quality - Shiels

Northern Ireland boss Shiels admits England and Austria are favourites to progress from the group but says he hopes his players will cope with the occasion of playing at Wembley.

"I'm working hard on getting that positive feeling about playing in the stadium," he said.

"Representing your country on a platform like that is unreal and it will give them a great feeling.

"England's athleticism is quite unique in the women's game, they are strong in practically every quality.

"Austria are one of the top teams in this group and I'm sure they will be pushing England all the way."

Northern Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (Lee University/Glentoran), Becky Flaherty (Huddersfield Town), Maddy Harvey-Clifford (Crusaders Strikers).

Defenders: Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes), Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City), Laura Rafferty (Southampton), Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville), Demi Vance (Rangers).

Midfielders: Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville), Louise McDaniel (Cliftonville), Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran), Chloe McCarron (Glentoran), Caragh Hamilton (Glentoran) and Joely Andrews (Glentoran), Rachel Furness (Liverpool), Sarah McFadden (Durham), Ciara Watling (Southampton).

Forwards: Kerry Beattie (Glentoran), Lauren Wade (Glentoran), Simone Magill (Everton), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers).

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