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Hamilton tries next generation

Bryan Hamilton, the Northern Ireland manager, is poised to give his "young pretenders" the nod for tonight's European Championship Group Six qualifier against Latvia at Windsor Park, Belfast.

Manchester United's reserve defender Pat McGibbon and the Tottenham winger Gerard McMahon, both 21, are strong contenders for call-ups, with McMahon providing a serious challenge to Newcastle's Keith Gillespie. Both youngsters impressed on the recent tour of Canada.

He has delayed naming his line-up until noon but it is expected that Arsenal's Stephen Morrow or Neil Lennon of Crewe will operate in front of the back four.

For Hamilton, who still harbours hopes of qualifying for next summer's finals, three points are a must if his side is to maintain a challenge to Portugal and the Republic of Ireland. "Latvia's massed defence will be difficult to break down" he said. "They are renowned for this type of play away from home but we possess the wide men capable of getting round it.

"We have many qualities in our side - a young one which has gained an immense amount of experience over the last 12 months."