Julie Nelson returns for Northern Ireland for World Cup qualifiers

Julie Nelson
Julie Nelson.

By William Esler

Julie Nelson has been recalled to the Northern Ireland squad for their upcoming Women’s World Cup qualifiers with England and Austria.

The veteran defender missed the squad’s tour of Spain last month and takes the place of Southampton’s Laura Rafferty. Rangers midfielder Megan Bell is also back after injury as are Glentoran’s Sam Kelly and Crusaders Emily Wilson.

But there’s no spot in the squad for Glasgow City striker Kerry Beattie or Southampton’s Ciara Watling. Northern Ireland are away to Austria on Friday 8 April, before facing England at Windsor Park in front of what is expected to be a record crowd on Tuesday 12 April. Kenny Shiels’ side sit third in Group C, level on points with Austria and five points behind England. The group winners will qualify automatically for the finals in Australia and New Zealand next year, while the runners-up will contest a play-off round. Northern Ireland Women squad for World Cup qualifiers against Austria and England: Goalkeepers – Jackie Burns (BK Hacken, Sweden), Becky Flaherty (Brighouse Town). Defenders – Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes Women), Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville Ladies), Demi Vance (Rangers Women), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville Ladies). Midfielders – Nadene Caldwell, Chloe McCarron, Caragh Hamilton, Sam Kelly and Joely Andrews (all Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan and Toni-Leigh Finnegan (both Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Liverpool Women), Megan Bell (Rangers Women). Forwards – Lauren Wade (Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Everton Women), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers).