Bradford City: McArdle realistic about future Northern Ireland call-up (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City: Rory McArdle pushes international thoughts to back of mind
Rory McArdle is not expecting a World Cup bonus from Northern Ireland’s poor start to qualifying.
The City defender has won five caps for the Green and White Army, most recently in the summer friendly in Amsterdam when they were thrashed 6-0 by a full-strength Holland.
Michael O’Neill’s men have come under fire after a dismal midweek home draw with group minnows Luxembourg – and next up they face a daunting trip to Lisbon to face Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.
But despite his own solid form for the Bantams, McArdle admits his most likely route to a call-up is through injuries to others.
“You’ve got to be realistic and look at the squad who’ve been involved in the last two qualifiers,” he said.
“From a defensive point of view, you’ve got the likes of Jonny Evans, Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley, who are all plying their trade in the Premier League.
“When they’re fit, they are always going to be in the squad and starting. That’s just how it is.
“It’s the strongest part of the team through the middle, especially if you’ve got Steve Davis and Chris Brunt in front of you. If injuries do come, hopefully I’ll get the nod, but it would be a bonus.”
McArdle faced Holland’s superstars just four days before signing for City. He came on after an hour with his side already 5-0 down.
He said: “Holland were cruising by then. It was their warm-up game before the Euros and they were right at it. But it was unbelievable to see just how good those players are.
“For the first hour, I was sat watching and one of the things that really stood out was Holland’s workrate. (Robin) Van Persie, in particular, was everywhere.
“It just showed that even when you’ve got that quality, you still have to work hard.
“They made a few changes before I came on but they brought on Van der Vaart, who isn’t a bad substitute! Robben was still out there as well as Afellay and Huntelaar, so it was hardly a weakened team.
“It was a great experience and the place was full. It was something I’ll never forget.”
McArdle has not given up hope of playing again but is pushing any international thoughts to the back of his mind for now.
He said: “I’ve not spoken to the manager since Holland but I’m sure they keep tabs on everyone. As far as I’m concerned, as long as I’m playing well for my club then I’m happy.
“If the chance with Northern Ireland comes again, then it will be great, but it’s not something I’m going to get down about.”
Meanwhile, former City left back Luke O’Brien has joined Oxford on a short-term deal until the end of the year.