Northern Ireland have warned Italy that they will be travelling with a youthful squad for next month's friendly in Pisa.
Manager Nigel Worthington has decided to excuse the majority of his senior players from duty for the 6 June clash with the world champions. Worthington today named 10 uncapped players in his 19-man party, with a further six of the squad having made just five appearances or less.
The only significant experience in the group comes from record goalscorer David Healy, Birmingham's Damien Johnson and Grant McCann of Scunthorpe, who account for 145 of the total 161 caps between them. Worthington said: "It is a very young squad we have put together.
"It is important the senior players have a well-earned rest and they go off on their family holidays. It will give the young players some very good experience. We've put a phone call in to let them know the age of the squad we'll be taking, it'll be pretty much an under-21 group with one or two experienced players.
"What the Italians do is entirely up to them. If they play their big boys so be it, but if they play a younger team that would probably make for a better game. But the game is there to be played and we are looking forward to it."
I see the positives from giving the youngsters a go, it lets me see
where they are at. The senior players have had a long, hard season and
they need a rest.
Northern Ireland have enjoyed an outstanding season and currently top 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying group three after back-to-back wins over Poland and Slovenia in March. It is because of this that Worthington is happy to allow his players to rest this summer, although he insists there is still plenty to be learned from playing Italy.
He added: "I see the positives from giving the youngsters a go, it lets me see where they are at. The senior players have had a long, hard season and they need a rest.
"Our main focus needs to be September when the qualifiers come back round again. I want to make sure the players have had a rest, have got a good pre-season behind them and are raring to go.
"It is a great opportunity for these players to show that should one of the seniors get injured or suspended then we can always think back and remember such-and-such did well there. It is a big deal for us, it is part of the planning. In an ideal world you would want your best XI out there but circumstances sometimes dictate in the game of football."
Among the new names are 18-year-old midfielder Corry Evans, the younger brother of Manchester United team-mate Jonny. Crusaders captain Colin Coates is given a chance along with club-mate Martin Donnelly while Linfield's Robert Garrett and Stephen Carson of Coleraine add further Irish Premier League representation.
Craig Cathcart, Chris Casement, Shane Duffy, Shane Ferguson and James Lawrie will also be hoping to win their first caps. The selection of one of the few senior men involved, McCann, was also problematic due to a clash with a coaching course organised by the Irish Football Association.
McCann is taking his UEFA A Licence at the same time but has been cleared to travel . Healy will lead the line looking to end what has been a disappointing season on a high. The 29-year-old has scored just three goals for struggling Sunderland.