International debut beckons for McKay

Corby-born former Northampton Town striker Billy McKay has been called into the Northern Ireland squad
Corby-born former Northampton Town striker Billy McKay has been called into the Northern Ireland squad
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Corby-born striker Billy McKay could be set to make his international debut.

The 24-year-old is one of five uncapped players Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill has called up for next month’s friendly against Malta.

Striker Kyle Lafferty, who is suspended for the next World Cup qualifier against Russia, has been left out so in-form Inverness forward McKay will hope to be given a chance up front after being included.

Tranmere forward Adam McGurk has been called up for the first time while 18-year-old Liverpool winger Ryan McLaughlin and Hull defender Alex Bruce, who has previously played for the Republic of Ireland, will be hoping to win their first caps.

Uncapped Bury goalkeeper Trevor Carson is also included for the February 6 game, but Fulham defender Chris Baird joins Lafferty on the sidelines as he is also suspended for the Russia game.

McKay, who began his career with Leicester City before joining Northampton Town and then making the move north of the border, is currently the leading goalscorer in the Scottish Premier League with 16 to his name so far this season.

He is a Northern Ireland under-21 international and was also called into the senior squad last November but did not play.

Northern Ireland squad to face Malta in friendly at Ta’qali National Stadium on February 6: R Carroll (Olympiacos), A Mannus (St Johnstone), T Carson (Bury), A Hughes (Fulham), R McGivern (Manchester City, on loan at Hibernian), J Evans (Man Utd), C Cathcart (Blackpool), G McAuley ( West Brom), A Bruce (Hull), D Lafferty (Burnley), S Davis (captain, Southampton), O Norwood (Huddersfield), C Evans (Hull), N McGinn (Aberdeen), C Brunt (West Brom), S Ferguson (Newcastle), R McLaughlin (Liverpool), D Shiels (Rangers), W Grigg (Walsall), J Ward (Derby), B McKay (Inverness), P McCourt (Celtic), A McGurk (Tranmere).