Problems for McMenemy

 

Northern Ireland's injury problems are mounting ahead of Saturday's opening European Championship qualifier against Turkey in Istanbul.

The Irish had already lost influential skipper Steve Lomas after he damaged his ankle playing for West Ham at Coventry on Saturday and he has been joined on the sidelines by Darren Patterson.

The Dundee United centre-half injured his neck practising his heading in training on Saturday and missed Sunday's match at Motherwell.

Northern Ireland manager Lawrie McMenemy has called QPR's Keith Rowland into his squad from the standby list, but Lomas's withdrawal is still a huge blow.

QPR player-coach Iain Dowie is expected to don the captain's armband in his absence in what will be the striker's 50th appearance for the Irish.

Patterson's international career has been relaunched under McMenemy and the former Luton and Crystal Palace defender was disappointed at missing out on the trip to Turkey.

"I'm absolutely gutted because things have been going so well recently," he said.

"I had worked so hard to get myself back into the squad after my Achilles operation last year.

"I felt I was playing well and for the first time in a while I've been involved in the squads and I was not just there to make up the numbers.

"I had a great chance of starting in Turkey and then this comes along, which is a real nightmare.

"But it's only a little hiccup and I will be back soon.

"I should be ready in time for Dundee United's next league game, but unfortunately Saturday has come just too soon.

"It might have been okay by then, but they did not want to take the chance."

Newcastle winger Keith Gillespie is training with the Irish and is in line to play his first match since April after completing his recovery from his ankle injury.