Craig Cathcart's dream of recovering in time to play in next year's World Cup with Northern Ireland are over after Michael O'Neill's side were beaten 1-0 on aggregate by Switzerland in their European play-off.

A controversial penalty would prove the only difference between the two sides, and was won in the first leg by the Swiss by Corry Evans' alleged handball.

And then a 0-0 draw in Basel last night sealed Switzerland's progression, denying the British nation a first spot at a World Cup finals since 1986.

Cathcart played every minute of Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 campaign, when they were edged out 1-0 by Wales in the last 16, but has only been fit enough to feature in one of their World Cup qualifiers following a series of injuries.

The 28-year-old cannot play until January as he has been omitted from Watford's Premier League squad, a decision taken because of a leg injury suffered in his only apperance of the season, the 0-0 draw with Brighton in August.

No date has been set for the defender's return, but head coach Marco Silva issued an update before last week's defeat at Everton to say he was still some way from a recovery.