McCann withdraws from Northern Ireland squad to be with pregnant wife

Midfielder Grant McCann has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for personal reasons.

The Peterborough player’s wife is heavily pregnant and McCann has returned home to be with her, ruling himself out of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The 32-year-old had anticipated a clash, tweeting on Thursday: “Praying my wife has the baby before I meet up next week with N Ireland. Thought it was coming today, but wasn’t to be.”

The Irish Football Association confirmed the news in a short statement this morning.

It read: “Grant McCann has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad to play Azerbaijan on Wednesday due to family reasons.

“No replacements have been called up.”

McCann is the fifth player to drop out of Michael O’Neill’s original 24-man squad following Manchester United defender Jonny Evans, Hull’s Alex Bruce and forwards Andy Little and Jamie Ward.

O’Neill responded to Ward’s departure by summoning uncapped Inverness striker Billy McKay and yesterday added Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin and Burnley full-back Danny Lafferty to the group.

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