Joe Bursik had company in training at Stoke City today as both Angus Gunn and Adam Davies returned from injury.
Bursik was recalled from loan at Doncaster Rovers in mid-November after Davies (knee) and Gunn (ankle) were ruled out within a couple of weeks of each other.
Emergency cover Niki Maenpaa was then injured too and Andy Lonergan came in on a short-term deal – playing in a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Spurs when Bursik was cup-tie – before heading off to join West Bromwich Albion until the end of the season.
Davies and Gunn are not expected to be ready to be available for selection just yet – and 20-year-old Bursik has been in fine form – but it is a welcome boost for the squad heading into the second half of the season.
Steven Fletcher and Lee Gregory (both groin) remain sidelined and Morgan Fox (hamstring) is still out until probably the end of the month.
Michael O’Neill said: “Fletcher and Gregory are still on their way back.
“The two goalkeepers have joined in training today actually. They need a bit more training probably to come into consideration.
“Morgan Fox is back running and it will take a bit of time. Obviously Tyrese (Campbell) is a long-term injury.
“We were tested (for Covid) today. Josh Tymon should be back after Covid from, I think, Saturday, but he’s not training before then so he’ll not be available. We have to wait for results from tests we’ve had today.”
Nick Powell and James Chester come back into the travelling squad for this weekend’s trip to Blackburn Rovers after sitting out of the FA Cup defeat to Leicester.
“Nick was rested,” said O’Neill.
“He had a bit of illness that wasn’t Covid related. He had a bit of a hip problem as well which needed to be managed.
“Nick’s played the most minutes for us this season with James Chester so we felt they were two players who could do with a break.
“We had experienced players to come in and replace them too.”