McAuley's Future Fears
Gareth McAuley has revealed how he feared his career was over after leaving Ipswich for West Brom.
The centre half, who will be 32 on Monday, was stricken with gastroentiritis during teh summer, which seriously set back his pre-season training.
McAuley told the Birmingham Mail: 'I couldn`t have got a worse start than when I came here and got that virus.
"For a while, I was actually thinking that I was just going to pack up.
"By that stage, I`d had the illness for six to eight weeks and I just wasn`t getting over it.
"You just wonder where it will end - or if that is the end.
Now, when I look back at photos from then, I can see that I was in a bad way.
"I look terrible, really unhealthy but we didn`t know what had caused it or anything like that.
"I was training hard when I initially got it in the summer because I wanted to be ready for when pre-season started here.
"I knew it was going to be hard to get into the team here and I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to be pushing from day one," he said.
"When we did pre-season, I had days when I was feeling okay and I thought I was over it but then two or three days down the line, it would come back.
"I managed to get a base of work done in pre-season but when we got back from America, I just had to say I couldn`t do it anymore."
Now McAuley, who joined the Baggies from Town as a free agent after Town failed to tier him to a new deal, is now a regular on Roy Hodgson's team sheet but he knows not to take anything for granted.
The Northern Ireland internationals said: 'When the chance comes, you have got to take it, your head has got to be right, you have got to be physically ready, because you might be waiting a long time for a second chance.
"But you are going to have to play well or other players are going to be in there.
"Already this season the gaffer has left out Nicky Shorey and Paul Scharner, guys who have played a lot of football at this level, so if you are not doing the job, it doesn`t matter who you are.
"You can`t take any liberties, there are a lot of good players at the club who are after your place."