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Kenny Shiels urging ‘massive underdogs’ Northern Ireland to enjoy Euro challenge

Shiels’ side face daunting group matches against England, Norway and Austria.

Image: PA

KENNY SHIELDS HAS urged his Northern Ireland Women squad to relish their status as “massive underdogs” heading into next month’s European Championship finals.

Shiels has confirmed his 23-strong squad for the tournament, which will see Northern Ireland face daunting group matches against England, Norway and Austria.

Shiels said: “Our first priority is to try and win a game – it is not beyond the realms of possibility but we are massive underdogs.

“I will speak with them about these three big matches and I will say: ‘Don’t miss it, enjoy it’.

“This is not something that will make or break us. As long as we give our best and are totally committed to representing our country, then we can walk away with our heads held high.”

Captain Marissa Callaghan has been named in the squad despite missing last week’s warm-up game against Belgium due to a foot injury.

Defender Ashley Hutton is also in the squad after recovering from knee surgery, while sisters Caitlin and Kirsty McGuinness are also involved.

Shiels admitted the experienced 36-year-old Callaghan, who could surpass 50 international caps at the tournament, remains crucial to his side’s success.

“Marissa is so important to our progress – she is like a machine,” added Shiels.

“When she gets knocked over she gets up again, and she gets on with it. She fractured a bone in her small toe but she’s come through that and she’s pretty much ready to go again.”

Northern Ireland squad for UEFA Women’s Euro 2022

Goalkeepers: Jackie Burns (BK Hacken), Becky Flaherty (Brighouse Town), Shannon Turner (Wolverhampton Wanderers Women).

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Defenders: Kelsie Burrows (Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Holloway (Racing Louisville), Ashley Hutton (Linfield Ladies), Abbie Magee (Cliftonville Ladies), Sarah McFadden (Durham Women), Rebecca McKenna (Lewes Women), Julie Nelson (Crusaders Strikers), Laura Rafferty (Southampton Women), Demi Vance (Rangers Women).

Midfielders: Nadene Caldwell (Glentoran Women), Joely Andrews (Glentoran Women), Chloe McCarron (Glentoran Women), Marissa Callaghan (Cliftonville Ladies), Louise McDaniel (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel Furness (Liverpool Women).

Forwards: Simone Magill (unattached), Caitlin McGuinness (Cliftonvillle Ladies), Kirsty McGuinness (Cliftonville Ladies), Lauren Wade (Glentoran Women), Emily Wilson (Crusaders Strikers). 

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