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McAuley determined to right wrongs

Gareth McAuley admits Northern Ireland's long winless run has cut the players deep and left them desperate to restore some pride with a positive result against Russia on Wednesday.

Northern Ireland have not won since August 2011, when they defeated the lowly Faroe Islands 4-0 at home, losing eight and drawing five of the subsequent 13 games.

Their home form has been a particular cause of disappointment, drawing with Azerbaijan and Luxembourg during the current World Cup qualifying campaign and losing 2-0 to Israel in their previous outing at Windsor Park.

The meeting with Fabio Capello's Russia represents another chance to restore the feelgood factor to a ground that has become an increasingly unsettled environment for the home side during their lean patch.

McAuley appreciates the supporters' recent frustrations and has assured them the players share the sentiment.

"We need to put some results back into it. We've been not getting results when we thought we should have but it's about not getting frustrated too," he said.

"There's nothing worse than coming away and getting frustrated through not getting results and getting frustrated at ourselves.

"It's never nice, even worse when you're getting booed off by your own crowd. It's like you've let the whole country down really and nobody appreciates that you've run about and tried and you take that away with you. You take it to heart a bit but you can't carry it around with you and take it back to your club.

"The thing is there is so much time between games and that's when it can become frustrating."

Despite the trials and tribulations that come with being a Northern Ireland player, West Brom regular McAuley remains a vocal advocate of international football.

The 33-year-old has more perspective on the issue than most, playing semi-professionally in the Irish League until 2004 and gradually working his way up to the Barclays Premier League via Lincoln, Leicester and Ipswich.

He feels playing for his country helped him climb the ladder and reminded Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin - who has recently made himself unavailable for international duty in a bid to focus on his fledgling club career - of that.

"For me international football is a massive shop window," he said.

"Some lads are not getting a sniff in their first team...but if you can do it here, then not only your club is going to notice but also other teams who could take you on loan and get you in, get you fit and get you first-team football.

"It's a no-brainer for me but I don't know for others, how they've been advised or what's going on behind the scenes.

"For me the chance to play international football at such a young age (as McLaughlin) is something you can't beat and I find it hard to understand.

"You talk about Ryan and I know him, he's a good lad and it's disappointing he won't be used but he wants to focus on getting into the Liverpool team first.

"I've spoken with him and it will just take time, he'll hopefully come back and play for us."

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