Damien Johnson, the beleaguered Birmingham City midfield player, is expected to return to the Northern Ireland team for the Euro 2008 qualifying match against Latvia at Windsor Park tonight.

Johnson has endured a difficult start to the season at club level and, for Northern Ireland, came on as a second-half substitute in the goalless draw against Denmark on Saturday after completing a two-match suspension.

Johnson looks likely to replace Michael Duff, who is suspended, with Chris Baird switching to his normal right-back position.

Baird, of Southampton, has nevertheless looked at home in a holding midfield role, according to Aston Villa's Aaron Hughes, the Northern Ireland captain.

"Chris has done really well for us in the last two games," Hughes said. "Maybe he does not like that spot but he has not shown it. We have a little bit of depth in our squad now."

Northern Ireland are showing good form, with a draw in Denmark coming after a splendid victory against Spain. The opening-day defeat by Iceland is becoming a distant memory and Warren Feeney, the striker, says: "Perhaps that result was a blessing in disguise because we know we cannot give a repeat performance."

Ivan Sproule, the Hibernian striker, is back in the squad as Stuart Elliott is ruled out with a stomach problem.