MX23RW : Thursday, September 20 05:37:02

Gareth McAuley hints at international retirement

Veteran defender Gareth McAuley is readying himself for international retirement ahead of Northern Ireland's crucial World Cup qualifying playoff against Switzerland.

Gareth McAuley has admitted that he will consider retiring from international football if Northern Ireland fail to qualify for the World Cup.

The 27-year-old played a full part in his side's 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in the first leg of their qualifying playoff for a place in the quadrennial tournament.

After more than 12 years' service, the veteran defender is almost ready to call it quits and could bow out if Norn Iron fail to pick up the result required in the return fixture against Switzerland in Basel this evening.

McAuley concedes that a failure to reach Russia 2018 may also signal the end of boss Michael O'Neill's tenure, telling reporters: "What I do probably has a lot to do with what Michael does and what happens after this campaign.

"Michael gets linked with all the jobs going. It's a difficult one. There will be clubs looking at him and seeing what he has done with us over the last few years.

"If Michael was to move on and get a club job, it would be a consideration of mine as to what I would do going forward into another qualifying campaign. I need to make sure I'm playing regular football to even consider coming away to play international football."

Aaron Hughes, Chris Brunt and skipper Steven Davis will also reportedly contemplate stepping aside at the end of the current World Cup campaign.

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Gareth McAuley of West Bromwich Albion during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion at Britannia Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Stoke on Trent, England.
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