Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough forced to make squad changes ahead of World Cup qualifiers

Northern Ireland's manager Ian Baraclough gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Nations League Group 1, League B match at Windsor Park, Belfast. Credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

Northern Ireland boss Ian Baraclough has been forced to make a number of changes to his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Bulgaria.

Dundee United goalkeeper Trevor Carson, Hearts defender Michael Smith, Preston midfielder Alistair McCann, Oxford winger Gavin Whyte and Blackpool striker Shayne Lavery will all miss the matches in Geneva and Sofia on October 9 and 12 respectively.

Those players have withdrawn due to injury or illness, with Baraclough calling up Liverpool goalkeeper Liam Hughes, Leyton Orient striker Paul Smyth, Sunderland midfielder Carl Winchester and Morecambe defender Ryan McLaughlin as replacements.

Baraclough said: "We've dealt with injuries coming into a number of previous camps and, unfortunately, this one is no different.

"But this is a resolute group that has come together through adversity and I have no doubt they will do it again.

"We are still waiting for a few players to join us and we look forward to a few days' training in Belfast before we fly out to Switzerland."

One of the players yet to report for duty is Leicester defender Jonny Evans but the vice-captain is expected to join up in the coming days.

Winchester's call-up sees him return to the squad more than a decade after winning his only previous senior cap, as a substitute against Wales in May 2011.