Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill urged to 'make the call' and ask Sheffield United's Ollie Norwood to come out of retirement and help Euro 2020 qualification bid
Gareth McAuley, Oliver Norwood's former Northern Ireland teammate, has urged manager Michael O'Neill to 'make the call' and attempt to persuade the Sheffield United midfielder to temporarily end his international retirement.
O'Neill's men face Bosnia and Herzegovina in March in a play-off as they look to reach the 2020 European Championships. Norwood announced his international retirement in August, at the age of 28.
The midfielder shone for Northern Ireland at the 2016 Euros in France and won 57 senior caps for his country.
Norwood has shone at Premier League level for the Blades this season and McAuley, in his Belfast Telegraph column, wrote: "Just think of the boost a returning Ollie would have to our team. With nearly a season of Premier League football under his belt, he would enhance our team enormously.
"Ollie's reasons for retiring from the international team are personal and so I will not be divulging or commenting on them. However, I think there is certainly hope. It would be worth Michael making the call.
"What's the worst that can happen? He says 'no' and you get on as if you if never even asked the question. But if he says 'yes' and well, suddenly your midfield becomes a great deal stronger.
"It wouldn't be a permanent situation, just a short-term solution to a problem we are currently facing.
"I would certainly encourage Ollie to take the plunge.
"Make the call, Michael."
At the time of Norwood's announcement, O'Neill described it as "premature" and later added the midfielder was making "a huge mistake".