Martha Thomas watches the ball as Laura Rafferty watches from the ground - Image by Martin Smith/Sports Press Photo

Bristol City defender Rafferty recalled to Northern Irish squad for EURO play-offs

Bristol City defender Laura Rafferty has received a recall to the Northern Ireland squad for the nation’s upcoming UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 play-off matches against Ukraine.

The 24-year-old Southampton-born defender has not represented her country in more than two-and-a-half years but she has returned to the fold after proving her fitness for Bristol City this season with the player having overcome long term injury.

The Northern Irish Football Association announced head coach Kenny Shiels’ 23-player squad for the upcoming play-off fixtures this evening with Rafferty being one of two players to receive recalls, Glentoran’s Emma McMaster being the other.

Rafferty is one of eight English-based players named in the Northern Irish squad. Sheffield United goalkeeper Becky Flaherty has been included alongside Birmingham City defender Rebecca Holloway. In midfield, Rachel Furness (Liverpool), Chloe McCarron (Birmingham City), Sarah McFadden (Durham) and Ciara Watling (Charlton Athletic) have made the squad while Everton’s Simone Magill is a member of the attack.

Northern Ireland travel to┬áKovalivka for the first leg on Friday 9 April before hosting Ukraine back in Belfast on Tuesday 13 April in the second leg. The winners over the course of the two legs will secure a place at the UEFA Women’s EURO in England next summer.

Northern Ireland Squad

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (Glentoran Women), Becky Flaherty (Sheffield United Women)

Defenders: Ashley Hutton and Kelsie Burrows (both Linfield Ladies), Toni-Leigh Finnegan (Cliftonville Ladies), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Rebecca Holloway (Birmingham City Women), Laura Rafferty (Bristol City Women), Emma McMaster (Glentoran Women)

Midfielders: Nadene Caldwell, Samantha Kelly (both Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Liverpool Ladies), Chloe McCarron (Birmingham City Women), Sarah McFadden (Durham Ladies), Ciara Watling (Charlton Athletic Women), Rebecca McKenna (Linfield Ladies), Louise McDaniel (Unattached)

Forwards: Kerry Beattie and Danielle Maxwell (both Glentoran Women), Simone Magill (Everton Women), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers), Kirsty McGuinness (Sion Swifts Ladies).

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