Belfast Telegraph

Euro 2016 countdown: Determined Rory McArdle isn't prepared to give up on France dream

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland defender Rory McArdle is an honest performer on the pitch and an honest guy off it.

On Tuesday night he delivered a solid display for his club Bradford City as they drew 0-0 at home to League One leaders Coventry.

It was the SEVENTH clean sheet in a row for the Yorkshire outfit, with McArdle playing a major role.

He will admit himself he only had a minor part to play in Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 qualification, coming into the squad when there were injuries or suspensions.

But how he enjoyed having the best seat in the house as a substitute in last month's 3-1 victory over Greece that sealed the side's place in France.

Read more:

Make Euro Final tickets for all Northern Ireland supporters, says Gerry Armstrong

Fans divided on Euro ticket issue as IFA ponder next move

George Best remembered: Brilliant Bestie would have lit up the Euro finals 

Being on the bench that night was a fantastic experience for the 30-year-old, who has won 19 caps.

McArdle admits that if manager Michael O'Neill has a full deck to pick from, he is unlikely to make the squad, given that Gareth McAuley, Craig Cathcart, Jonny Evans and Aaron Hughes would all be above him in the pecking order.

McArdle insists, though, that won't stop him trying to impress the boss.

"Windsor Park last month was a little bit like when we won promotion at Bradford," he explained.

"By that, I mean the sense of relief. It was 1986 when Northern Ireland last played in a major finals and you could see what it meant to everyone.

"I would love to be part of it next summer but it will be tough. There are some great players in my position. If everyone is fit, I won't get in. I appreciate that.

"But, as long as I am playing well for my club, maybe I can get another call. I would be over the moon."

Meanwhile Conor McLaughlin has gained the bragging rights over international team-mate Shane Ferguson after Fleetwood defeated Millwall 2-1 in League One to continue their recent upturn in fortunes.

McLaughlin said: "It was a brilliant result against Millwall. Hopefully we can round off a good week against Blackpool on Saturday."

In that match, McLaughlin will face more Northern Ireland players in the shape of Martin Paterson and Andy Little.

Belfast Telegraph