Millwall midfielder helps Northern Ireland deny Italy World Cup place – defender misses out

GEORGE Saville is on his way back to Millwall after playing for Northern Ireland as they denied Italy automatic qualification for the World Cup after their 0-0 draw in Belfast on Monday night.

Saville played 72 minutes and had one of his side’s best chances but he was denied by Euro 2020 player of the tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma who saved his 50th minute shot from Jamal Lewis’ cross.

Conor Washington had a glorious chance to shock the European champions in the last minute but after going around Donnarumma he didn’t strike the ball cleanly enough and Leonardo Bonucci cleared off the line.

The point apiece left Italy in second place, two points behind Group C winners Switzerland and heading into the play-offs in March for a place at Qatar 2022.

Ian Baraclough’s side finished third, seven points behind Italy and one point ahead of Bulgaria.

Lions defender Daniel Ballard wasn’t in the squad for the game against Italy or for the 1-0 win over Lithuania last Friday. Ballard had an injection in his knee early last week but is set to train this week as Millwall prepare for their trip to Middlesbrough on Saturday.

Boss Gary Rowett could have a full squad available for the first time this season, though Murray Wallace and George Evans are doubts for the Teesside clash.

Image: Millwall FC 

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