World Cup: Martin Paterson back in Northern Ireland squad

Martin Paterson: Burnley striker back in Northern Ireland squad

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Burnley striker Martin Paterson has been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Israel.

Paterson has not played for his country since the 3-3 draw with Finland on August 15 due to a self-imposed exile in order to get himself back to full fitness following a series of injuries.

However, he has been included in Michael O'Neill's squad for the matches at Windsor Park in Belfast on March 22 and March 26.

O'Neill said: "We kept the dialogue open and I spoke to Martin soon after Christmas when he'd played for the best part of three months injury-free and he is happy to come back."

O'Neill, who is still searching for his first win as boss, has named 24 players for the meeting with Group F leaders Russia and suspended duo Kyle Lafferty and Chris Baird will then link up with the squad for the Israel match four days later.

There are recalls for experienced midfielders Sammy Clingan and Grant McCann.

Clingan, who is now with Kilmarnock, captained the side in O'Neill's second match in charge but was dropped while he looked for a new club earlier this season.

Peterborough's McCann is back after falling out of favour under O'Neill.

Rangers midfielder Dean Shiels has been ruled out with a knee injury and Hull midfielder Corry Evans is also an absentee.

Squad: Carroll, Mannus, McGovern, Hughes, McGivern, Cathcart, McAuley, D Lafferty, J Evans, Bruce, Davis, Norwood, McCann, McGinn, Brunt, Ferguson, Clingan, Little, McCourt, Grigg, McKay, Paterson, Healy, Ward. Available for Israel only: K Lafferty, Baird.