Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has been dealt a major blow for World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Bulgaria as six players have withdrawn from the 26-man squad. Injuries to goalkeeper Trevor Carson, defender Michael Smith, midfielder Ali McCann, forward Paul Smyth, and striker Shayne Lavery have seen them ruled out, while Gavin Whyte is unavailable due to a positive Covid-19 test. Experienced defender Johnny Evans remains in serious doubt due to a heel injury.
Switzerland with their new coach Murat Yakin took a valuable point against European champion Italy at home, while in the last match away to Belfast they make a goalless draw, but striker Seferovic missed a penalty in 33rd minute. Coach Murat Yakin called Cedric Itten from Bundesliga promoted Greuther Fürth and Celtic player Albian Ajeti who last appeared for Switzerland in autumn 2020. In addition, Yakin can count on various returnees for the games against Northern Ireland and Lithuania. Breel Embolo, Mario Gavranovic, Kevin Mbabu, and Xherdan Shaqiri had already received a squad in September but couldn’t follow it for medical reasons. Now they are all back, including Eray Cömert and Jonas Omlin, who had to leave injured.
All in all, this is an extremely important match for Switzerland in the battle for second place and I think that should score a clear victory.