Gutted Gareth: I'm still a leader

GARETH McAuley today revealed that losing the captaincy will be beneficial to Ipswich Town.

Elvin King

GARETH McAuley today revealed that losing the captaincy will be beneficial to Ipswich Town.

Having skippered the side for the whole of last season following his transfer from Leicester City, the 29-year-old central defender was stripped of the arm band by manager Roy Keane in August.

Alex Bruce took the role, with Jon Walters now favourite to hold the post on a permanent basis having taken over when Bruce was injured.

“I was disappointed to have the captaincy taken away,” said McAuley. “It was a great honour.

“But I don't perceive my role to be any different now to it was last season.

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“I am still leading on the field along with Alex and/or Jon, but no longer have the off-field hassle that can see you take your eye off the ball a bit.

“When it comes down to it I just want to win football matches.”

McAuley was quoted last month as saying that his agent had been told by the club that he could leave Ipswich if he wanted.

But that is behind loyal clubman McAuley now, and he added: “Our manager has definitely got it in him to get Ipswich where they want to be.

“He keeps driving us on and we are moving in the right direction - perhaps too slowly.

“We all want the quick fix and hopefully that will come at Plymouth on Saturday.

“The gaffer will never lose his drive and enthusiasm and he will continue to drag that out of us.

“Are the players on his side? Without a doubt.”

McAuley did his best to describe the torture he and his team mates went through in the final seconds of Tuesday night's home draw with Watford.

“It you take the worst thing that's ever happened to you and multiply it you are getting close to how awful we felt,” said the man who headed the Blues ahead in the fourth minute.

“I really have no words to describe it. It was gut-wrenching.

“And the pain was greater because Watford never looked like scoring.

“But late goals keep happening and we must learn to concentrate right to the final whistle.”

McAuley, who still leads at the back and could briefly regain the captaincy at Plymouth on Saturday if Jon Walters is unfit, said it was a difficult journey home on Tuesday night.

“No one likes going home after another failure to win,” he added. “Every game is massive for us in the situation we are in.

“It affects everybody including your family, and it is a situation none of the players have been in before.

“Nobody has had a winless run like this.”