Keith Gillespie will be free to play for Northern Ireland against Azerbaijan, England and Wales after FIFA confirmed his three-match ban will only apply to friendly internationals.

The world governing body told PA Sport that, as last night´s match against Malta was an out-of-competition match, the suspension would carry over to Northern Ireland´s future friendlies.

The Sheffield United winger is a key member of the Northern Ireland team and they could ill-afford to do without him against England, Wales and firstly Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifiers.

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