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​West Brom defender McAuley desperate to make Northern Ireland play-offs

Gareth McAuley is prepared to play for West Brom U23's in an attempt to reach peak fitness for Northern Ireland's World Cup play-off next month.

The 37 year old McAuley is not assured to start for West Brom and is open to playing in Premier League 2 fixtures with the development squad over the next month.

"Obviously being injured at the start of the season was not ideal as I wasn't able to challenge for a place," McAuley said. "I've got two games under my belt here and I just have to go back, train well and see what happens there.

"I'll try and get some football anyway, even if it's with the 23s or with the first team, I need to make sure I maintain fitness going into the games next month."

McAuley could be tasked with trying to shackle a Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale next month depending on who Northern Ireland get when the play-off draw is made on October 17.

"A two-legged game, home and away, is difficult anyway, no matter who we get," McAuley said.

"Hopefully the draw will be favourable for us but all the teams that are going to be involved there will be good sides."

Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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