Malta v N Ireland preview

Inverness striker Billy McKay is in line to make his Northern Ireland debut in Wednesday evening's friendly away to Malta.

The 24-year-old hitman has scored 21 goals for Caley Thistle this season and will now be given his chance by Michael O'Neill to see whether he can cut it at international level.

Tranmere's Adam McGurk, Josh Magennis of Aberdeen and Walsall's Will Grigg are also contenders for starting roles.

Striker Kyle Lafferty and defender Chris Baird are both suspended for next month's World Cup 2014 qualifier against Russia, so have not been included in O'Neill's squad.

Hull defender Alex Bruce, who won two caps for the Republic of Ireland five years ago, is poised to play for Northern Ireland for the first time on Wednesday.

Bruce, whose change of allegiance was confirmed last year, had to pull out of O'Neill's last two squads due to injury and although he tweaked his ankle in training on Monday, he should be fit to play in Valletta.

St Johnstone's Alan Mannus has been confirmed as goalkeeper, with Roy Carroll (back) ruled out. Ryan McGivern, Ryan McLaughlin, Oliver Norwood and Jamie Ward are also missing through injury.

Northern Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: Mannus (St Johnstone), Carson (Bury), Doherty (Derry City).

Defenders: Hughes (Fulham), J Evans (Manchester United), Cathcart (Blackpool), McAuley (West Brom), Lafferty (Burnley), Bruce (Hull), Hodson (Brentford).

Midfielders: Davis (Southampton), Carson (Ipswich), C Evans (Hull), McGinn (Aberdeen), Brunt (West Brom), Ferguson (Newcastle).

Forwards: Shiels (Rangers), Magennis (Aberdeen), Grigg (Walsall), McKay (Inverness), McCourt (Celtic), McGurk (Tranmere).