Euro 2020 play-off: Gareth McAuley expecting more aggression from Northern Ireland against Bosnia

Gareth McAuley won 80 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring nine goals
Gareth McAuley won 80 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring nine goals

Gareth McAuley has said he is expecting more "aggression and energy" from Northern Ireland against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo on Thursday.

NI take on the Bosnians in a Euro 2020 play-off semi-final, with the winner facing the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia for a place in the finals.

Ian Baraclough's men lost 5-1 at home to Norway in their last outing but former defender McAuley does not expect that to be a factor.

"I'd put that out of the way," he said.

"Northern Ireland went down to 10 men early away in Romania [in the Nations League game three days before the Norway defeat], battled hard and got a draw out there.

"The turnaround was so quick to the game in Belfast and we don't have the same depth in players or the quality probably within the squad as Norway do.

"Haaland is obviously a fantastic player and on the night destroyed us, but I think physically we struggled to cope with the turnaround.

"However, with this one the lads have gone away and had games with their clubs. They're going into it fresh, if you like, so I'm expecting a lot more energy and aggression in their play and in how they approach this game."

'No better guy' than Davis to break record

Steven Davis and Gareth McAuley
McAuley has praised Davis for his contribution to NI

NI captain Steven Davis is set to break the all-time appearance record for his country when he wins his 120th international cap against Bosnia, to surpass legendary former goalkeeper Pat Jennings.

McAuley was a long-term international team-mate of the Rangers midfielder and told BBC Radio 5 Live of his delight at his friend's achievement.

"It's absolutely fantastic, and no better guy to take Pat's record because every time I've met Pat he has been an absolute gentlemen," McAuley added.

"He will be delighted for Steven to surpass his record, but the thing about Steven is he has been so consistent and he has always been there.

"He looks after himself, is never injured and leads by example every time he plays. His standards have been so high for Northern Ireland, from the first game I can remember him playing.

"He will be leading on the pitch by the way he plays, so I'm delighted for him and delighted for his family. He's a top lad and many congratulations on that achievement."

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