Doncaster Rovers' Luke McCullough closes in on European Championships dream but it's a blow for Darren Ferguson

Luke McCullough in action against Northern Ireland colleague Stuart Dallas of Leeds United
Luke McCullough in action against Northern Ireland colleague Stuart Dallas of Leeds United

Doncaster Rovers defender Luke McCullough's dream of playing a part in this summer's European Championships took a step closer today when he was named in the Northern Ireland squad for their upcoming friendlies.

However, the timing isn't good for Rovers who will now be without McCullough for two crunch games against Colchester and Blackpool as Darren Ferguson's men battle to pull themselves out of a relegation dogfight.

The 22 year old was included by boss Michael O'Neill for the matches against Wales in Cardiff on March 24 and Slovenia at the National Stadium, Belfast on March 28.

After these two friendlies, Northern Ireland have just two more scheduled matches before they kick off their Euro 2016 campaign, with Belarus visiting Belfast at the end of May. They then take on Slovakia on June 4 before the big one against Poland in Nice on June 12.

McCullough has been a mainstay in his country's squad ever since being called in for a mini-tour of South America in 2014.

Northern Ireland were drawn with Poland, Ukraine and Germany for this summer's championships, the first major international tournament they have qualified for since the World Cup in Mexico in 1986.