Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Gareth McAuley: I'll have to take rap for seeing red

Gareth McAuley was sent off in Nicosia
Gareth McAuley was sent off in Nicosia

Gareth McAuley is expecting a grilling from Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill ahead of the team's summer trip to South America.

After a poor team performance in Wednesday's night's drab 0-0 draw with Cyprus in Nicosia, the West Brom defender is anticipating lengthy discussions to take place before the friendlies against Uruguay and Chile in late May and early June.

McAuley, who was sent off 14 minutes from time, could yet play in both those games. There is no Fifa sanction for red cards in friendly internationals and it is up to the Irish FA and O'Neill to decide if they want to adhere to an unwritten rule.

After the sending off McAuley admitted that it could have been worse, with his foul on Dimitris Christofis possibly preventing the Cypriot striker from scoring a match-winning goal.

"We've all got personal standards and I don't think enough of us reached them on this occasion," said the 34-year-old.

"You go away and analyse your own performance and Michael will do that for the group. Next time we get together we'll speak about what we could have done better – and there will be a lot of things on that list.

"In the first half we tried to play in the wrong areas. We invited pressure from them and got nervous, making a lot of mistakes on the ball."

McAuley was dismissed for a reckless lunge at Christofis, and although it was debatable whether he was guilty of denying a scoring opportunity – with the incident taking place close to the touchline 30 yards out – he made no attempt to blame the referee.

"I wouldn't say it was harsh, it's within the rules of the game," said the defender.

"I had a split-second to make the decision because their guy made a great pass in behind.

"I saw he was getting there first so I just took everything out. I nearly walked and I was just waiting for the red card really.

"I don't know if it was good decision or a bad one or what, but it denied a goalscoring opportunity and we got the clean sheet so we move on."

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