LONDON: Paddy McNair has been named in the Northern Ireland squad for their World Cup play-off against Switzerland after returning from a long-term injury.
McNair ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament last November and the Sunderland midfielder only made his comeback with an 11-minute substitute appearance in his Championship club's 2-1 loss against Bristol City on Saturday.
The 22-year-old's lack of game time has dissuaded Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill from selecting him in the squad for the two-legged tie against the Swiss.
With a place at next year's World Cup in Russia up for grabs, Northern Ireland host Switzerland at Windsor Park on November 9 before the return leg in Basel three days later.
Nottingham Forest forward Jamie Ward is back in the squad after missing the final five games of the group stage with a calf injury.
O'Neill has included Aaron Hughes even though the defender is yet to return from the calf problem that forced him to withdraw from the qualifiers with Germany and Norway.
Hughes has a chance to be back for Hearts against Kilmarnock on Sunday before linking up with his international colleagues in Belfast.
Having made 108 international appearances, the 37-year-old will surpass Bobby Moore as the home nations' most capped defender ever if he features in either of these two games.
O'Neill has also recalled Scunthorpe defender Rory McArdle, with the 30-year-old winning the last of his seven caps in March 2014.
Northern Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers: Roy Carroll (Linfield), Michael McGovern (Norwich), Alan Mannus (St. Johnstone)
Defenders: Aaron Hughes (Hearts), Gareth McAuley (West Brom), Jonny Evans (West Brom), Chris Brunt (West Brom), Conor McLaughlin (Millwall), Lee Hodson (Rangers), Paddy McNair (Sunderland), Daniel Lafferty (Sheffield United), Rory McArdle (Scunthorpe), Tom Flanagan (Burton)
Midfielders: Steven Davis (Southampton), Niall McGinn (Gwangju), Oliver Norwood (Fulham), Corry Evans (Blackburn), Shane Ferguson (Millwall), Stuart Dallas (Leeds), Paul Paton (St. Johnstone), Matthew Lund (Burton), Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock), George Saville (Millwall)
Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Hearts), Josh Magennis (Charlton), Conor Washington (QPR), Jamie Ward (Nottingham Forest)