McGovern set to face Romania

Date published: Saturday 13th June 2015 7:23

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Yet to make his competitive debut – his three appearances came in friendly matches – McGovern is expected to replace veteran Roy Carroll, an ever present under Michael O’Neill in qualifiers, following his withdrawal with abdominal pain.

McGovern played 43 times in the SPFL this season, keeping 15 clean sheets. He was voted Hamilton’s player of the year in his first year in Scottish football’s top flight.

In his only start for Northern Ireland the 30-year old was named man-of-the-match at Hampden Park against Scotland in March.

Expected to deputise tonight is uncapped Cheltenham keeper Trevor Carson, while coach Maik Taylor has been named on the final UEFA squad list a full three years since his last professional game.

Should Taylor feature he would become Northern Ireland’s oldest-ever player, ahead of Elisha Scott who was 42 when he won his last cap  in 1936.

McGovern, Carson and Taylor have 91 caps between them; 88 belong to Taylor who has played in 7 qualifying campaigns.

Elsewhere, O’Neill may be tempted to hand Brentford’s Stuart Dallas a first competitive start following recent impressive performances and that would mean Jamie Ward or Niall McGinn missing out – the latter being more likely.

Group leaders Romania are not without problems. Manager Anghel Iordanescu is missing a host of players including Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon, Lucian Sanmartean and Razvan Rat. Striker Ciprian Marica and Cristian Tanase are also absent, while Floran Gardos won’t get to face Southampton team mate Steven Davis having struggled with injury recently.

Victory for Northern Ireland would mean they follow up in the footsteps of Wales and move top of their group with four games remaining.

Watch all the build up from Belfast live on Sports Saturday on Sky Sports News HQ

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