Northern Ireland takes a blow for the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania as Stuart Dallas pulls out for ‘personal reasons’, while boss Ian Baraclough admits the Leeds star’s withdrawal ‘surprised us’
- Stuart Dallas will not participate in Northern Ireland’s clash against Lithuania
- The Leeds star has stayed home after withdrawing for ‘personal reasons’
- Boss Ian Baraclough declined to reveal but said it took the squad ‘by surprise’
Northern Ireland have been dealt a blow to their World Cup qualifier in Lithuania after Stuart Dallas withdrew for personal reasons.
The Leeds United star was left behind in Belfast as Ian Baraclough’s side traveled to Vilnius for the Group C draw.
“It’s personal and that’s why he didn’t come with us,” said Baraclough, who is also without Jonny and Corry Evans, George Saville and Josh Magennis.
Stuart Dallas has withdrawn from Northern Ireland’s squad for ‘personal reasons’ ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania
‘I don’t have the freedom to talk about it. It’s something from the last 24 hours and it surprised us.’
Lithuania has its own problems with new coach Valdas Ivanauskas who will miss the game after testing positive for Covid.
Northern Ireland will need a win on Thursday to keep in touch with Italy and Switzerland at the top of the group after a goalless draw at home to Bulgaria in March.
Boss Ian Baraclough declined to expand, saying his side was focused on the game ahead
But Baraclough knows it could also spark next week’s clash with the Swiss in Belfast and give his team a chance to finish second for the next international break.
“If we can take three points from this game, the Swiss should go to Italy,” he said. “So hopefully by the time we play against the Swiss we are two points behind them and we can get out of this international break for Switzerland if we get the right results.
“It’s a huge window for us and hopefully we’ll get a lot of positive things out of it.”