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West Brom's Chris Brunt gets Northern Ireland call

Sport | Published:

Chris Brunt has been named in his first Northern Ireland squad since missing Euro 2016 with a cruel knee ligament injury.

The 31-year-old Albion midfielder joins team-mates Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley in Michael O'Neill's squad for the upcoming international break.

The Green and White Army face Azerbaijan in a World Cup qualifier on Friday, November 11, and then host Croatia in a friendly Tuesday, November 15.

"Chris was a big blow to miss at the Euros so to have him back is great," said O'Neill. "He's a Premier League quality player."

"He'd been training well and we hoped he'd be available but in the last few weeks he's made great strides. He's a Premier League player and he's always going to be in our squad.

"He was a big loss to us in the finals so it's great to have him back."

Brunt was ruled out of action for eight months after rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament at the end of February in the 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.

Brunt has won 54 caps for his country, but the injury ruled him out of Northern Ireland's first major tournament for 30 years.

The long-serving utility player, who is currently in his 10th season with the Baggies, travelled out to France with the Northern Irish squad but didn't play any part in proceedings.

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After undertaking months of rehabilitation – during which time he lifted the equivalent of 40 elephants and completed the equivalent of 10 triathlons – Brunt is now back in the first team.

He came off the substitutes' bench against Tottenham and Liverpool before making his first start in an Albion shirt since his return against Manchester City on Saturday.

"It's brilliant for him to be back," said West Brom assistant Dave Kemp. "He's had a couple of substitute appearances. Now he's back and he's very good."

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