McAuley urges West Brom to find new gear
Northern Ireland star Gareth McAuley has urged his West Bromwich Albion team-mates to hit back from their disappointing defeat to Bournemouth.
The Baggies lost 2-1 at home to the Cherries on Saturday and are now just five points above the relegation zone.
McAuley's second half goal looked as though it would earn Albion a draw after Republic of Ireland winger James McClean was sent off for a shocking lunge on Adam Smith, but an 87th minute strike by Charlie Daniels won the contest for the visitors.
It was the fourth game in a row without a win for WBA and there are fears amongst the support that unless they get back on track they could find themselves sucked into the battle to avoid the drop.
McAuley said: "It's disappointing that after getting back into the game we couldn't see it out.
"There wasn't long to go and we have enough experience in our side to be able to see that out.
"We should have come away with at least a point."
The former Coleraine defender is itching to return to action so his team can put things right.
And he knows the festive fixtures coming up will be crucial for West Brom's season.
On Boxing Day they travel to struggling Swansea, before taking on Newcastle and then Stoke in the holiday period.
"There are a few massive games coming up now against teams in the bottom half of the league," said McAuley.
"We will be looking to get back to winning ways."
McAuley is a cert to play in central defence against Swansea, but it will be intriguing to see what Baggies boss Tony Pulis does with Jonny Evans.
Normally at the heart of defence, the Northern Ireland ace has been playing in central midfield lately.
Whether he stays there or moves back to the position where he has established himself in the Premier League will be of interest to Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill who has earmarked Evans for a defensive role at the Euro 2016 finals.