Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Craig Cathcart delighted by defence's 'great shift'

Craig Cathcart was full of pride after the new look Northern Ireland defence stood firm to frustrate Israel in Tel Aviv.

Michael O'Neill's side ended their World Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note following a 1-1 draw but doom merchants predicted a heavy defeat with Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley and Aaron Hughes not available for selection.

Cathcart was the senior man in an unfamilar rearguard but he and his comrades stood up to the challenge.

Eden Ben Basat's goal was a significant blow but, overall, O'Neill's men comfortably weathered the storm.

"It was disappointing to concede the goal so close to half-time but we were still confident we could get something from the game," said the Blackpool man.

"We created a few opportunities while limiting them to only a few.

"We had three of the back four players missing so it was great to see the lads come in and put in a great shift.

"I have more caps and that brings pressure with it but you accept that. It's good to have that pressure on your shirt, knowing other players want it.

"I've played with Rory (McArdle) in the Under-21s and all the guys have played league games and are looking fit.

"It was a pretty comfortable transition."

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