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McAuley hopes to show the way

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Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley

Gareth McAuley has urged his younger Northern Ireland team-mates to follow his example after winning his dream move to the Barclays Premier League.

The defender's move from Ipswich to West Brom on a free transfer was confirmed on Monday. McAuley, 31, was playing in the Irish League with Coleraine just seven years ago and believes his career progress is proof that hard graft and effort will be rewarded.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's Carling Nations Cup clash with the Republic of Ireland, he said: "I've always believed. If you've got dreams and you keep pushing yourself forward, you can achieve things."

He added: "That's the important thing. Some of the young boys in the Irish league who are in this squad should try to use that as an example. If they get their heads down and work hard, the proof is there that you do get the rewards."

"I'm delighted to get it sorted out. It's been going on for a couple of weeks and that's it done. It's another step up, another progression in the journey of my career. It's a challenge to get into the team first and foremost. They have good players there but I back myself all the way, as I always have done.

"I've worked hard and sometimes you get the rewards. I've now got to get into the team and prove I can play there. Everyone has that dream to play in the Premier League, it's one of the best leagues in the world."

McAuley claims staying at Ipswich would have meant taking the easy option as he now prepares for a higher level. He said: "I think Ipswich have a good chance of promotion next season. They've got a good manager in and I think things will change there. They are moving in the right direction.

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"The easy thing for me to do would have been to stay there. They offered me a very, very good deal for a Championship club. I could have stayed there, I was well liked. But I needed the challenge and I've certainly got that ahead."

Looking ahead to Tuesday's game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, skipper for the night McAuley said: "I hope they play a strong team against us.

"We've got a few lads out but we've got a good core and we have young, enthusiastic players who are here and want to play. They deserve their chance. It will be a tough match. They are our near neighbours and it will be a good game to get our teeth into."


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