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Gareth McAuley injury scare is concern for Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is hoping influential defender Gareth McAuley will recover from injury in time to face Greece in next week's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier at Windsor Park.

The former Coleraine star was forced to miss West Brom's dramatic 3-2 home defeat to Everton last night with a calf strain and while he expects to be fit and well for the October 8 showdown with the Greeks, that won't stop the concern amongst Northern Ireland fans.

With Kyle Lafferty suspended for the crunch clash, McAuley's ability to grab a goal could be key in a Group F fixture which if won by Northern Ireland will see them qualify for next year's finals in France.

McAuley is Northern Ireland's second highest goalscorer in this campaign with three strikes. Only Lafferty, on seven goals, has more.

O'Neill was today planning to name McAuley in his squad for the forthcoming Euro double-header with Greece in Belfast and Finland in Helsinki on October 11.

Aberdeen winger Niall McGinn can also expect to be included despite picking up a groin injury at the weekend in his side's defeat against Inverness Caley Thistle.

At the Hawthorns last night, WBA boss Tony Pulis bemoaned the loss of McAuley as his side let slip a two-goal lead to a Romelu Lukaku-inspired Everton, who scored twice against his old team to take the Toffees into fifth place in the Premier League ahead of Sunday's derby with Liverpool.

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