Schwarzer pays for honesty

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MARK SCHWARZER feels he has been harshly criticised by some sections of the Middlesbrough support, as he is paying for his honesty.

The Australian international admits he wants to play European football but may never have a better opportunity of achieving that goal at The Riverside as Steve McClaren's side go into the FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal knowing that victory will help take them a step closer to a place in next term's Uefa Cup.

Mark Crossley, who recently ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract, deputised admirably for Schwarzer when the former Bradford man was on international duty, and some supporters felt he was extremely unlucky to be replaced by the SocceRoo.

"I returned to Middlesbrough injured, had an operation and, when I got back in the first team, found myself on the end of criticism from some Boro fans," admits Schwarzer.

"They weren't impressed that, while I was with the SocceRoos, I'd said I wasn't exactly happy at Middlesbrough.

"I don't want to leave the club but I do want to play in European competition and experience big challenges.

"Mark Crossley had done well while I was away, so a few supporters were unimpressed that I was replacing him after what I'd said.

"That's what you get in soccer sometimes but I've always been honest."

Schwarzer also confesses to feeling bitter at Australia's exit from the World Cup, following the play-off defeat to Uruguay.

"This season has been unbelievably frustrating for me," he told The Age.

"I feel like I've had four seasons in one.

"The World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay are still a sore point.

"It's difficult to escape World Cup fever in England and I'm trying to ignore everybody talking about it.

"I might not even watch the tournament on TV."