Paterson pulls out of World Cup qualifier in Portugal

PULLED OUT: Martin Paterson
PULLED OUT: Martin Paterson

STRIKER Martin Paterson has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland for their World Cup qualifier in Portugal on Tuesday at the Estadio Do Dragao in Porto.

But left back Danny Lafferty has been drafted into the squad by boss Michael O’Neill.

Burnley's  Danny Laffery''Football Friendly - Cheltenham Town v Burnley - Saturday 4th August 2012 - Abbey Business Stadium - Cheltenham''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

Burnley's Danny Laffery''Football Friendly - Cheltenham Town v Burnley - Saturday 4th August 2012 - Abbey Business Stadium - Cheltenham''� CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com

Paterson, who netted his second goal of the season in the 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday, has not had a recurrence of an injury, but has pulled out as a precaution to focus on his fitness for his club.

He had said, before linking up with his country: “It’s something I will have to think long and hard about and talk about with my family.

“I have to keep fit.

“Every game does take a lot out of me and my legs.

“The most important thing is to keep fit and play as many games as I can for my club.

“If I’m not doing that then I’m not doing my job.”

The 25-year-old was selected for O’Neill’s squad, after pulling out of the double header against Russia and Luxembourg in September to continue his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Paterson came on at half-time against Brighton in the game before the last international fortnight, on his return after missing three games with a Grade 1 muscle tear.

But he was allowed to remain with Burnley to build up his fitness, instead of making the trip to Moscow, before making the decision not to return to the squad to take on Luxembourg at Windsor Park.

Paterson has strung seven successive starts together since - his best run since February - but is searching for the right balance to maintain his fitness and form, after three injury-hit seasons.

Lafferty meanwhile will be hoping to add to his solitary cap for his country, earned in the 6-0 defeat against Holland at the Amsterdam Arena prior to Euro 2012.

Also on international duty are Sam Vokes, and David Edgar and first-year professional Luke Conlan.

Striker Vokes, with only two starts to his name since his £350,000 summer move from Wolves, is with Wales for their games against Scotland and Croatia, and Edgar is with Canada for their games against Cuba and Honduras as the Canucks look to progress to the next phase of World Cup qualifying.

Left back Conlan is in the Northern Ireland Under 19 squad for the UEFA European Championship qualifying round.

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