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Sep, 9, 2012

Evans in fitness race for N.Ireland

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is a fitness doubt for Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg on Tuesday, but Newcastle's Shane Ferguson returns to boost the squad.

Manager Michael O'Neill will continue to monitor the fitness of Evans, who took a knock to his ankle, before making a decision on his availability.

Ferguson, who can play at left-back or in midfield, missed Friday's trip to Russia with a groin problem but has been passed fit to rejoin the squad in Belfast and took part in training on Sunday.

Defender Evans admitted to feeling pain in his ankle throughout the Russia match, which may concern his club boss Sir Alex Ferguson, but also joined his team-mates in their Sunday workout.

O'Neill said: "Having Shane back is a big bonus for us. He's not had a lot of football but he's had a good bit of work with his club. We knew we couldn't get him for two games so it was important we had him for this one."

The Northern Irleand boss confirmed there had been no contact with Manchester United over Evans, adding: "We have no major concerns over Jonny but we just have to manage him between now and Tuesday.

"If there's any risk we wouldn't take that risk and neither would Jonny."

There was also one withdrawal for O'Neill's side, with goalkeeper Lee Camp returning home for personal reasons.

The Nottingham Forest number one was dropped to the bench for the 2-0 defeat in Moscow, with veteran Roy Carroll back for his first competitive appearance in six years. Trevor Carson has been called up as cover.

O'Neill said: "Lee spoke to me yesterday and asked to be relieved from the squad for personal reasons. Obviously I didn't delve too much into a player's personal situation, there are some things outside of football that are more important."

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