Conor keeps faith in Town

Conor McLaughlin
Conor McLaughlin

Conor McLaughlin had little time to reflect on Fleetwood Town’s FA Cup defeat – he met up with the Northern Ireland squad less than 24 hours later.

The full-back flies out to Bucharest this week for Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Romania.

Michael O’Neill’s side sit top of their group, having secured landmark away victories against Greece and Hungary.

But it was Fleetwood Town’s stuttering away form which prayed on McLaughlin’s mind before he joined his international team-mates.

Graham Alexander’s side have now lost seven straight away fixtures and face another tricky road trip to Yeovil at the weekend.

And Saturday’s defeat at Cambridge cast a shadow over McLaughlin’s international call.

But the former Preston man insists his team-mates can claim victory in Somerset without his help.

“I haven’t had chance to really think about international duty – I’m still reeling from Saturday’s mess,” he told The Gazette.

“I’m sure the boys will learn the lesson from the game and go and put in a good performance.

“The league is the focus now and we need to make sure we put everything into that.”

A Kwesi Appiah goal 10 minutes from time sealed Fleetwood’s cup fate after Jamie Proctor had been sent off for violent conduct.

McLaughlin made it clear the cup humbling by Richard Money’s League Two Us had been a painful one to take.

“It hurt a lot,” he said. “The lads have been focusing on ourselves, trying to sort the away form.

“First half I think we did OK. We were nothing special but we held out in difficult conditions.

“We thought we might be able to play a little more football with the conditions.

“They got a goal and it’s another defeat.

“We said to ourselves that if it was 0-0 we mustn’t lose the game and come away with a draw at very least.

“That’s what we should be able to do, even when we’re not playing well.

“The lads have got to work hard now and work with the manager to make sure we put these things right because we can’t carry on like this away from home.”

Proctor’s red card was the latest incident in a run of bad fortune on the road for Fleetwood.

But McLaughlin made it clear that Town, whether he was with them or not, could not afford to make excuses.

“A lot of things have been going against us,” he said. “Things like that have been happening in a lot of the away games.

“But we can’t make excuses. We can’t let it get to us.

“We’ve got to make sure we go out and do the job.

“Away from home we know we’re not doing the right thing.

“The lads have got to work hard and sort it out.”

And the 23-year-old is gutted, once again, to miss out on a shot at a big club in the third round.

He said: “We just haven’t been able to do it over the last couple of seasons. We just haven’t put a run together.

“It’s what everyone wants to do because it’s an amazing tournament.

“You only have to look at Warrington Town to see what it means.

“The smaller clubs are on a level playing field with the higher divisions. We’ve seen that on Saturday.

“Everyone wants to do well and get that big draw.”