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INTERNATIONAL: Charles receives Northern Ireland call-up

Dion Charles receives his first ever call-up to the senior Northern Ireland squad

18 March 2021

Accrington Stanley striker Dion Charles has today received his first ever call-up to the senior Northern Ireland squad.

Charles, who has previously represented the Northern Ireland Under-21s, has grabbed an impressive 17 goals for the Reds this season including a hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Bristol Rovers.

Ian Baraclough's side will begin the upcoming international break with a World Cup qualifier against four-time champions Italy in Parma.

The Green and White Army will then return to the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park to host the USA in a friendly, followed by a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria three days later. 

As well as Italy and Bulgaria, Northern Ireland are also joined in Group C by Lithuania and Switzerland.

The 25-year-old, who qualifies through the grandparent rule, explained that he's over the moon to receive his maiden call-up:

"I'm absolutely delighted, these things don't come around often so I've got to take the opportunity with both hands.

"I will be going into a group of good lads and very good players, so it's only going to benefit me to learn things from the senior players within the squad.

"Ian Baraclough called me last week to inform me I was in the squad but the conversation didn't last too long because I was a bit lost for words.

"When I meet up with the squad, I'll hopefully be able to have a sit down with him and then have a proper chat."

Stanley manager John Coleman admitted the striker's call-up is a deserved reward for the hard work he has put in so far this season:

"I'm delighted for him, it's a reward for all the hard work he has put in.

"He can't take his eye off the ball and his main priority is scoring as many goals as he can for us and I know the way Dion is, and I know Dion's hungry to get as many goals as he can."

A full list of Northern Ireland's upcoming fixtures and kick-off times can be found below:

  • Italy v Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th March (7.45pm)
  • Northern Ireland v USA - Sunday 28th March (5.05pm)
  • Northern Ireland v Bulgaria - Wednesday 31st March (7.45pm)

All three fixtures will be available to watch live via the Sky Sports Football channel.

The 25-year-old's inclusion does mean that he will be unavailable for the upcoming away fixture with Peterborough United on Saturday 27th March.

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