Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands: McAuley feeling the pressure

By Stuart McKinley

In a world where players and managers are never keen to admit their failing or weaknesses Gareth McAuley’s honesty is refreshing.

Maybe it’s because he knows that there’s no fooling the diehard Northern Ireland fans.

The dedicated members of the Green and White Army who made the long, arduous and rather expensive journey to the Faroe Islands last October were left feeling short-changed after seeing their team struggle to draw 1-1 with one of Europe’s weakest teams.

It wasn’t just the result though that frustrated the fans, it was more the fact that Nigel Worthington’s team didn’t really deserve any better given the level of performance. When you just haven’t been good enough and everyone else is saying so, you might as well just admit it.

The one thing that Worthington clung to was the fact that Kyle Lafferty’s late goal got Northern Ireland a point. Estonia weren’t so lucky back in June when they were defeated|2-0 by the Faroes.

And because of that result Brian Kerr’s team will come to Windsor Park for tomorrow night’s Euro 2012 qualifier with renewed confidence as they look for a first competitive away win in 10 years.

“The game in the Faroes was a low point, but if you ask Estonia about going there it's probably a low for them too,” said McAuley.

“It wasn't great though. We have to ask ourselves the questions about going out there. Did we prepare right? Did we respect them enough?

“All those things we are looking at and making sure they are put right. The pressure is on to perform and get a result. We know it's a must-win, no bones about it.”

McAuley scored Northern Ireland’s only goal so far in 2011 a header against Serbia back in March that gave Worthington’s men a half-time lead before going down 2-1 in Belgrade.

At a time when goals are needed if the goal of making it to the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine is to be achieved, McAuley is pointing to David Healy’s previous record as key if a victory is to be gained.

“David's back in the squad, our record goalscorer, and he's looking sharp, looking fit,” said McAuley.

“Hopefully he can score the goals.”

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