Northern Ireland will be without Craig Cathcart when they travel to Baku for next weekend’s World Cup Qualifier against Azerbaijan.
The Watford defender was not involved in Friday’s friendly against New Zealand, after joining up with Michael O’Neill’s squad just over 24 hours ago.
After being assessed by the medical staff, it was decided that Cathcart’s knee injury would rule him out of their Group C away trip to Azerbaijan.
Liam Boyce, who scored the only goal of the match against the Kiwis, was taken off as a precaution at Windsor Park after feeling tightness in his hip flexor.
However, the Ross County player should be fit for the match on Saturday, June 10.
But it still means Northern Ireland will be without eight of their squad of 23 for the crucial game.
In addition to Cathcart’s absence, also missing are Paddy McNair, Corry Evans, Chris Baird, Will Grigg, Jamie Ward and Luke McCullough. Conor Washington is another non-traveller as he is getting married.
But Gareth McAuley is expected to return to the squad after receiving treatment back at West Brom.
Looking ahead to the trip to Azerbaijan, O’Neill said: „We won’t have Craig Cathcart with us next week due to the injury.
„But Gareth will be fine. He came in today. We have no concerns about Gareth’s fitness. He’ll start training with us on Sunday.“
And the manager was full of praise for Boyce, who lasted 45 minutes on Friday: „This season he’s been consistent in not just his goal-scoring but his all-round play.
„You’ve got to remember Liam has had only three seasons as a full-time professional.
„Three years ago he was a Cliftonville player. His development has been great, a lot of that’s down to himself, he recognised he had to be fitter.
„Technically his level is extremely high, you watch him and some of the things he does make you take notice of him.
„He’s got fantastic feet, good finishing. He brings it back on to his weaker side and scores.
„I’m delighted for him because he’s a genuinely good lad. I’ve got family members who are huge Cliftonville fans who have been telling me for years I should have him in the squad. Finally I relented!
„Your first international goal is important as a striker. Liam has the ability to score at international level, there’s no doubt about that, because of the types of goals he scores.“