Jonny Evans is one of three withdrawals from the Northern Ireland squad to face Azerbaijan

Jonny Evans: Ruled out of World Cup qualifier

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Northern Ireland have lost three players from their squad ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, Rangers forward Andy Little and Hull defender Alex Bruce have all withdrawn from Michael O'Neill's party.

While Little (foot) and Bruce (knee) were unlikely to make the starting XI, the loss of Evans will be a major blow to O'Neill's preparations.

The influential defender, who was left out of United's 3-2 win at Aston Villa with a groin problem, was one of Northern Ireland's top performers in the 1-1 draw with Portugal last month and will be a big miss at Windsor Park.

O'Neill has responded to the withdrawals by adding uncapped Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin and Burnley's Danny Lafferty to his squad.