Will Grigg could well have been in line for his first competitive start for Northern Ireland next month, had he been available.
The Wigan forward again asked to be ommitted from Michael O’Neill’s squad after his partner recently gave birth.
It’s the second squad in a row Grigg has requested to be left out of due to his family situation, and while boss Michael O’Neill understands his decision, he did hint Grigg had cost himself a place in the starting XI.
“He came into our thoughts for the Czech Republic game and he certainly would have come into our thoughts for the San Marino game given that he’s been on the score-sheet more regularly than any of the other front players we have this season,” said O’Neill.
“He recognises that this is his best opportunity in a while to start but he just didn’t feel that it was the right thing to do.”
Grigg has netted six goals for Championship side Wigan already this season, a stat matched in the Northern Ireland panel only by Liam Boyce, who is playing in the Scottish Premiership, generally accepted to be a lower standard to England’s second tier.
O’Neill rejected any suggestion that Grigg’s unavailability at the start of the World Cup qualifiers is related to the fact the forward didn’t get any pitch time at Euro 2016.
“If that was the case and he didn’t want to be a part of it, I fully expect that he would tell me that,” said the boss.