Northern Ireland’s Jamal Lewis is expected to return from a groin injury that kept him out of the opening game of the international period, having featured from the bench against the USA and will contend for a place on the left flank. Manager Ian Baraclough previously lost striker Conor Washington to injury and winger Jordan Jones was forced to withdraw just before the squad was announced. Young Daniel Ballard, currently on loan at Blackpool from Arsenal, impressed despite the defeat on Sunday and speculation persists that the 21-year-old centre-back could keep his place in the back three, alongside Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart. Strikers Kyle Lafferty and Shayne Lavery – who played under Baraclough for the Under-21s and has eight goals in his last five games for Irish League leaders Linfield – offered energy and application at the weekend, so either could be favoured to one of the previous duo, Josh Magennis and Gavin Whyte. New Bulgaria boss Yasen Petrov included 10 uncapped players in his first selection as national coach, though regular fixtures such as experienced centre-back Vasil Bozhikov and Brazil-born wing-back Cicinho should once again start in Petrov’s favoured 3-5-2 on Wednesday. Young Bologna defender Valentin Antov started against Italy, having begun on the bench versus Switzerland, and will hope to keep his spot in the back three ahead of CSKA Sofia skipper Petar Zanev. Fellow Serie A player Andrey Galabinov, of Spezia, should keep his place up front, after being omitted from the squad entirely last Thursday. Meanwhile, Kiril Despodov – scorer against the Swiss – may come back in for Spas Delev in support of the striker.
Missing Players and team news:
Northern Ireland – Bulgaria: Preview and Highest Odds