WORLD CUP PLAY-OFF: Basel pitch was in shocking state - George Saville

Northern Ireland's George Saville with Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez
Northern Ireland's George Saville with Switzerland's Ricardo Rodriguez

Millwall midfielder George Saville believes the state of the pitch at St-Jakob Park was ‘disgraceful’ as Northern Ireland missed out on a place in the World Cup.

The rainy conditions made things difficult for both sets of players, but Saville was left unimpressed by the state of the playing surface in Basel.

“For me, the pitch was disgraceful,” Saville said.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think it was shocking.

“For a game of this magnitude and at this level, to play on a pitch like that I think is unacceptable.

“We’re not using that as an excuse or blaming the conditions.

“We both got dealt the same cards and you get on with it.”

The 24-year-old was handed his first competitive start and put in an excellent performance as Northern Ireland suffered a heartbreaking exit.

“I don’t think you can complain about the performance tonight,” Saville insisted.

“Every single man out there worked their socks off.

“The players ran themselves into the ground.

“I’m proud of everyone involved with the squad.”

The English-born midfielder admitted Ricardo Rodriguez’s disputed spot-kick is a ‘difficult one to take’ as Switzerland reached their fourth successive World Cup.

“You can talk about it as much as you want but you’re not going to change it, it’s gone,” Saville added.

“Obviously we’re not going to the World Cup and it’s disappointing.

“It’s hard to take, especially with the effort you put in.

“Over 180 minutes of football you’ve lost to a goal that was very debatable. That’s hard for players and is a tough one to take.