Nations League: Kofi Balmer handed first NI call-up as Jamal Lewis returns to the squad


Jamal Lewis is back in the squad for the final two Nations League games

Crystal Palace defender Kofi Balmer has received his first Northern Ireland call-up for the final two Nations League games against Kosovo and Greece.

The 21-year-old former NI youth, Ballymena and Larne player moved to Palace last month.

Newcastle defender Lewis is back after a string of injuries last season.

Northern Ireland are third in their group and need a good finish to avoid relegation to the fourth tier.

Ian Baraclough’s side have gone 14 games without a win in the Nations League and have picked up just two points from four matches in Group C2.

Shea Charles and Conor McMenamin keep their places after making their Nations League debuts in June.

Experienced pair Craig Cathcart and Conor Washington, who both missed four games earlier this summer, are not included by Baraclough.

Injury rules Daniel Ballard out, with Niall McGinn, Liam Donnelly, Brodie Spencer, Luke Southwood, Josh Clarke, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Trai Hume, Charlie McCann and Alfie McCalmont also missing from the June games.

Northern Ireland faced Kosovo at Windsor Park on September 24 before finishing their campaign against leaders Greece in Athens three days later.

Jonny Evans will win his 100th international cap if he plays in both matches, while Steven Davis, who played for Rangers in the Champions League on Wednesday, continues to captain the team at the age of 37.

Northern Ireland national team

Goalkeepers: Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Burnley), Trevor Carson (St Mirren), Conor Hazard (HJK Helsinki).

Defenders: Jonny Evans (Leicester City), Paddy McNair (Middlesbrough), Conor Bradley (Bolton Wanderers, on loan from Liverpool), Jamal Lewis (Newcastle United), Tom Flanagan (Shrewsbury Town), Ciaron Brown (Oxford United), Paddy Lane (Fleetwood) Town ), Kofi Balmer (Crystal Palace).

Midfielders: Steven Davis (Rangers), Corry Evans (Sunderland), Shane Ferguson (Rotherham United), George Saville (Millwall), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City), Alistair McCann (Preston North End), Shea Charles (Manchester City), Conor McMenamin ( Glentoran).

Forwards: Kyle Lafferty (Kilmarnock), Josh Magennis (Wigan Athletic), Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City), Shayne Lavery (Blackpool), Dion Charles (Bolton Wanderers).