Belfast Telegraph

We must learn from defeat and fight on, insists McLaughlin

 

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland defender Conor McLaughlin has admitted that the team must learn from the errors at the back that cost them against Bosnia & Herzegovina and quickly move on.

Michael O'Neill's men controlled the game for long periods on Saturday and created a host of chances. In contrast, Bosnia rarely threatened but when their opportunities came along they took advantage with Haris Duljevic netting in the first half and Elvis Saric scoring in the second.

Will Grigg grabbed a late strike for Northern Ireland but that didn't prevent an opening match 2-1 defeat in the Nations League at Windsor Park.

"You can't really ask for more in terms of the performance from the lads but the two goals could have been prevented," said Millwall full-back McLaughlin.

"We have to learn from that and move on. The last two or three years we haven't conceded goals like that.

"The really disappointing thing is that we wanted to get off to a good start in the Nations League but it wasn't to be.

"We dominated the game and that's why it's so disappointing to come away with a defeat.

"Some of the lads were saying it was the most one-sided game they've ever played in but it was the final ball or the last touch in the box didn't go right for us.

"Michael said to keep the heads up because he couldn't ask for more from us."

McLaughlin will hope to play against Israel in Belfast tomorrow night in a friendly though Hearts ace Michael Smith will also be in the frame for the right-back slot.

One man who won't play in defence is Gareth McAuley. He has returned to Rangers after signing for them last week.

Manager O'Neill does not want to risk the 38-year-old who has yet to play this season.

"Gareth won't be a part of Tuesday night. He will return to Rangers," said O'Neill. "It would be unfair to ask Gareth to play in an international after two or three days training."

Belfast Telegraph

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