Sheffield United: The reason why Oliver Norwood is not on Northern Ireland duty is revealed

Oliver Norwood has stayed at home with Sheffield United: James Wilson/Sportimage
Oliver Norwood has stayed at home with Sheffield United: James Wilson/Sportimage

Oliver Norwood, the Sheffield United midfielder, was excused from international duty with Northern Ireland because he is suspended for this weekend's UEFA Nations League tie against Austria.

Despite being eligible for tonight's friendly against the Republic of Ireland, Michael O'Neill allowed Norwood to remain in South Yorkshire and prepare for next Saturday's visit to Rotherham United rather than summon him to Belfast.

Conor Washington, Norwood's team mate at United, had been expected to report for duty with O'Neill's squad until injury intervened. Sources at Bramall Lane have described the problem as "niggling" and although it would have prevented him from featuring at either the Aviva Stadium or Windsor Park, the problem is expected to clear-up in time for the meeting with Paul Warne's side. 

The decision was taken following consultations with both O'Neill and the Irish Football Association's own medical staff. 

Chris Wilder, the United manager, praised O'Neill's handling of Norwood who was cautioned during Northern Ireland's recent games against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Franco Foda's squad.

"Ollie can't play in the Nations League one so, because Michael wanted to try a few things out, he decided to let him stay here with us. It's appreciated and really good management."

Oliver Norwood (front row far left) with Northern Ireland: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Oliver Norwood (front row far left) with Northern Ireland: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Norwood, aged 27, is expected to win his 58th cap when Northern Ireland return to action in March. Signed on a 'loan to buy' agreement from Brighton and Hove Albion before August's transfer deadline, he is chasing his third straight promotion from the Championship after helping his parent club and Fulham reach the Premier League.

Norwood has made 15 appearances for United, who entered the international break fourth in the table.

Oliver Norwood has impressed for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Oliver Norwood has impressed for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill: Tim Goode/PA Wire.