Northern Ireland are handed a blow ahead of World Cup qualifier against Lithuania as Stuart Dallas pulls out due to ‘personal reasons’ as boss Ian Baraclough admits the Leeds star’s withdrawal ‘took us by surprise’
- Stuart Dallas will not take part in Northern Ireland’s clash against Lithuania
- The Leeds star has stayed at home after withdrawing for ‘personal reasons’
- Boss Ian Baraclough refused to divulge but said it took the squad ‘by surprise’
Northern Ireland have been dealt a blow ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Lithuania after Stuart Dallas pulled out for personal reasons.
The Leeds United star was left behind in Belfast when Ian Baraclough’s side travelled to Vilnius for the Group C tie.
‘It’s personal and that’s why he hasn’t travelled with us,’ said Baraclough, who is also without Jonny and Corry Evans, George Saville and Josh Magennis.
Stuart Dallas has pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad for ‘personal reasons’ ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania
‘I’m not at liberty to discuss it. It’s something in the last 24 hours and it has taken us by surprise.’
Lithuania have problems of their own with new coach Valdas Ivanauskas set to miss the match after testing positive for Covid.
Northern Ireland need a win on Thursday to stay in touch with Italy and Switzerland at the top of the group following a goalless draw at home to Bulgaria in March.
Boss Ian Baraclough refused to expand and said his side were focused on the upcoming game
But Baraclough knows it could also set up next week’s clash with the Swiss in Belfast, and give his team an opportunity to go second ahead of the next international break.
‘If we can take three points from this game, the Swiss have to go to Italy,’ he said. ‘So by the time that we play the Swiss hopefully we are two points behind them and we could come out of this international break ahead of Switzerland if we get the right results.
‘It’s a massive window for us and hopefully we will get a lot of positives from it.’