Fifa bar McLean

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Fifa have ruled that Motherwell's on-loan defender Brian McLean cannot play for Northern Ireland.

The 21-year-old Rangers player had travelled to Vaduz this week in the hope that he would be eligible to play in the Under-21 international against Liechtenstein, which his team-mates won 4-1.

McLean represented Scotland at Under-17 level before switching his allegiance, and the centre half has been told that he cannot represent Northern Ireland because he did not play a competitive game for them before he was 21.

McLean was called into the Northern Ireland squad for the friendly against Portugal last November, but has yet to win a senior cap.

The Irish Football Association issued a statement, confirming that McLean would be ineligible to play.

"Chief executive Howard Wells has been in discussion with Fifa both verbally and in writing regarding the eligibility of the player Brian McLean to play for Northern Ireland," it read.

"The situation has been clarified in writing and the facts are that the player has been deemed ineligible to play for Northern Ireland as per article 15, parts (i) and (ii) of the regulations governing the application of the Fifa statutes because he has represented Scotland at Under-17 level in an official Uefa competition in 2002, a fact previously unknown by the Irish Football Association.

"Mr Wells will discuss the matter further with Irish Football Association president Mr Jim Boyce upon his return from Liechtenstein but the current situation is that it would appear that the player will unfortunately be unable to represent Northern Ireland at any international level."