Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

I'm not afraid of Wayne Rooney: Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley

Premier League newcomer Gareth McAuley insists he is not losing any sleep over the possibility of facing Wayne Rooney in his top flight debut.

The Northern Ireland star will have the chance to play in the top flight for the first time after making the move to West Brom from Ipswich on a free transfer.

McAuley could not have a more difficult baptism with Albion tackling Manchester United in the opening round of the league campaign at the Hawthorns.

But the defender said: "It's not something I would lose sleep over or anything like that.

"If I'm selected to play, it's me against him. I'm a good stopper, that's how I go about my game.

"Rooney is a fantastic player but that's what I'm going to come up against in this division. It will be a marker of how well I can do."

McAuley, who has won nearly 30 caps for his country, believes the experience he has gained throughout his career will stand him in good stead for the challenges ahead.

He began his career at Linfield Swifts and after failing to make the grade at Windsor Park, moved to Crusaders before really making a name for himself at Coleraine and earning a switch to full-time football with Lincoln City.

He was then snapped up by Leicester before moving to Ipswich.

"It has been a progression for me. I only turned pro when I was 24," he said.

"Sometimes you have kids who break into the team when they're 17 or 18, play a couple of games and then fade away. I look at it as a positive that I have always made steps forward.

McAuley added: "Something I have always looked for is to make a progression, keep learning and moving forwards."

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