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Northern Ireland not just making up the numbers - McAuley

Britain Soccer Football - West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - The Hawthorns - 15/5/16 West Brom's Gareth McAuley after the match Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic
Britain Soccer Football - West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool - Barclays Premier League - The Hawthorns - 15/5/16West Brom's Gareth McAuley after the matchReuters / Darren StaplesLivepic

REUTERS - Northern Ireland will be no pushovers when they face Poland in their opening match at this month's European Championship on Sunday, defender Gareth McAuley has said.

Manager Michael O'Neill's men, playing in the finals of a major tournament for the first time since the 1986 World Cup, also face Germany and Ukraine in Group C in France.

"We are ready for the challenge of keeping them out - but we will want to test the Polish defence as well. We want to do well at this tournament, not just make up the numbers," McAuley, who has won 60 caps for Northern Ireland, told British media.

"There is a real hunger. We know we can be tough to beat, but we have to get the balance right. We are ready to go. There is a little bit of tension building which is a nice feeling."

McAuley is wary of the threat Poland's talisman Robert Lewandowski, who has racked up 34 goals in 76 appearances for his country, will pose.

"Scoring 42 goals (in all competitions) and 13 in the qualifying campaign for this tournament shows you what Lewandowski is capable of. He is a top player for Poland, but they have other threats too," the 36-year-old added.

(Reporting by Ian Rodricks in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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