James McClean: It was wrong of Harry Arter not to show up
Ireland winger says that Declan Rice would be welcomed back to the squad if it happens
Ireland’s James McClean speaks to the media ahead of the Nations League matches against Wales and Denmark. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
James McClean insists that Ireland’s is a happy camp despite last month’s games being somewhat overshadowed by the absence of one player and the extraordinary account by another of how the assistant manager had provoked that decision to stay away from the squad.
McClean makes no secret of the fact that he would have done things differently but insists he is happy to have Harry Arter back. There will be a welcome for Declan Rice too if and when the West Ham midfielder eventually decides to make himself available again, he says, while noting that the situation there is well short of ideal.
“You’d have to put a gun to my head for me not to come and play for Ireland,” he says, “but everyone is different. I don’t mind the tough approach,” he continues in reference to the verbal abuse Arter was apparently subjected to by Roy Keane. “I like to think I’m capable of giving it back myself. I don’t mind a rollocking, I’ll take that. It will take more than a rollicking to stop me from turning up and playing for Ireland.
“I don’t mind Harry as a person but I’ll tell Harry myself, I thought he was wrong not to show up,” he continues. “You know, I’ve no problem in saying that. But I’m not going to go against him; it’s his issue. He’s here now, he’s a very good player and we need all the players so for me; it’s water under the bridge. I felt he should have showed up last time. But he’s here now, let’s get on with it.”
The Derryman talks about what he sees as the softness of younger players in what he feels they should accept to be a tough environment and when he does so it is easy to see why he has long been a favourite of his international manager.
Arter, for him, seems broadly to fall into the category despite the fact there is just eight months younger and, like McClean, has had to work his way up.
Things have come a little quicker for Rice, too quickly for Ireland’s good perhaps, but the Stoke City winger says he and the teenager are on good terms, despite his initial reaction on social media to the news the Rice was reconsidering his international future.
“I like the lad and obviously he’s a good player,” he says. “I do like him. But the situation is not ideal. Whatever he decides to do, that’s up to him. Whether I think it’s right or not, it’s his decision. It’s my personal opinion. It doesn’t mean my opinion is always right know what I mean. Again, it’s up to Declan. Declan, as a person and I’ve no issue with Declan.”
Now 29 he does admit that he is a little exasperated by how the game has gone, specifically in terms of, as he sees it, players being pampered as they come up through the underage ranks and then seeming to settle for the good life when their careers stall.
“They’d rather stay at Chelsea or City and it’s more for their social media than their actual playing careers,” he says. “Flash cars, nice watches – all for social media. No disrespect but some would rather say ‘I’m a footballer for Man City,’ – even if they’re not playing for Man City; they’re just a youth team player – than be a first-team player for someone like Carlisle.”
His own social media has been a bit of an issue down the years but the situation, he insists, is currently strictly under control.
“My wife’s taken my Twitter password,” he reveals. “She runs that for me now, which is probably wise. I just use Instagram, just for football and my kids.”