Belfast Telegraph

McAuley now laps up a Swede bonus

Leicester ace can cap his comeback in style

By Stuart McKinley

Gareth McAuley today declared that he is as dedicated as ever after being drafted into the Northern Ireland squad for next week's Euro 2008 qualifier in Sweden.

And as revealed in yesterday morning's Belfast Telegraph, Stephen Robinson of Luton Town has also been selected by Nigel Worthington after winning just a single cap in the last seven years.

Leicester City defender McAuley was originally named on the stand-by list for the game, which led to him considering his future at international level.

While frustrated at not appearing for his country since June of last year, the former Coleraine and Crusaders man is hungry to pull on the green shirt.

"I said things last week after being told I was only on stand-by and I said them because I want to play for Northern Ireland," McAuley told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I moved to Leicester City almost 18 months ago now hoping to further my international career, but although I am playing two divisions above where I was before and I am close to 50 appearances for Leicester I haven't played a single minute for Northern Ireland since I left Lincoln.

"When I left the Irish League it was with the goal of playing international football and that happend quite quickly for me - before the end of my first full season. In over two years since that I have only played five times, twice from the start, and haven't played a competitive match.

"Aaron Hughes and Stephen Craigan have built up a solid partnership at the back and the team has been doing well which makes it hard to break in. I feel I have made progress with Nigel Worthington bringing me back into the squad after I was left out by Lawrie Sanchez.

"Being left out of the 18 altogether in Iceland hurt me though and I was left to wonder what the point in me travelling was when I never got close to getting onto the pitch, but I am dedicated to playing for my country and hungry to be winning caps.

"Nigel has picked me again, he called me again to tell me I was going to be travelling and now I want to cap off a good couple of weeks for me personally by playing against Sweden.

"I have captained Leicester in the last couple of matches and when you see the size of the club and the players that we have in the squad that is a tremendous honour for me.

"I scored at the weekend too and now I have to prove to Nigel in training that I am worth a place in the team."

Northern Ireland squad: Taylor (Birmingham City), Mannus (Linfield), McGovern (Celtic), Evans (Manchester United), Craigan (Motherwell), Hughes (Fulham), McAuley (Leicster City), McCartney (West Ham), Capaldi (Cardiff City), Gillespie (Sheffield United), Sproule (Bristol City), Davis (Fulham), McCann (Barnsley), Robinson (Luton Town), Clingan (Nottingham Forest), Brunt (West Brom), Elliott (Hull City), Healy (Fulham), Lafferty (Burnley).

Belfast Telegraph


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