McClean thrilled with Ireland call


Soccer:Sunderland winger James McClean has described his call-up today to the Republic of Ireland squad for next week’s friendly international against the Czech Republic as the “best feeling there is”.

The 22-year-old from Derry has been added to the squad alongside Derby County’s Paul Green for next Wednesday’s game at the Aviva Stadium.

McClean had been a somewhat shock omission from the original 24-man squad named last week after his stunning run of form for the Black Cats, who knocked Arsenal out of the FA Cup on Sunday.

He reacted to his first call-up by tweeting: “absolutely buzzin and honoured to be called up to represent my country... best feeling there is #ROI”

Everton's Shane Duffy, himself only called into the squad in place of the injured Richard Dunne, was one of the first to congratulate McClean on the social networking site, saying: "well done lad deserve it more than anyone!!"

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni admitted just 10 days ago that he had talked to McClean and informed him he was part of the future, but his call-up seems to point towards a change of heart from the manager as he continues his planning for this summer’s European Championships.

McClean has played a huge part in Martin O’Neill’s tenure as Sunderland manager, scoring four goals from his left-wing berth and drawing widespread praise from opposition managers and pundits.

He was signed from Derry City for €420,000 last summer and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for young player of the year despite only making his debut as a substitute on December 11th in O’Neill’s first game in charge, the 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers. After a further two appearances from the bench, was handed a start against Manchester City on New Year’s Day and has remained in the team ever since.

Asked recently about McClean’s international potential ahead of this summer’s Euro 2012 finals, O’Neill said: “He is more than worth having a look at. I think he can force his way into the squad.

“Of course, the players who have got the Republic of Ireland there would deserve great credit for that, but there is always room for an emerging talent.”

Trapattoni’s ongoing theme since clinching qualification following the play-off victory over Estonia in November was that he would be keeping faith with the men who had taken Ireland to the finals.

Trapattoni said: “I think all the squad deserve to come with us. They believe us and they know us. We have four or five other names because we have no time to change. One is McClean. I spoke with him and I said, ‘Congratulations, James, I wish you to come with us.’ We now have insurance that he can play with us, and this is important.

“He said, ‘When you decide, call me up’. I told him 100 per cent he will be with us for the future. Now, I’m looking to consolidate.”

However, McClean’s chance may now come earlier than he initially thought having been presented with the opportunity to impress the Italian in training at the Republic’s Malahide base ahead of the clash with the Czechs.

Green makes a return to the squad following a knee injury that threatened his career at one stage. He has been lining out at right back and the right wing for Derby County since his return to the side.


GOALKEEPERS:Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall).

DEFENDERS:John O’Shea (Sunderland), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Stephen Ward (Wolves), Seán St Ledger (Leicester), Darren O’Dea (Leeds), Kevin Foley (Wolves), Shane Duffy (Everton).

MIDFIELDERS:Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Wigan), Séamus Coleman (Everton), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Keith Fahey (Birmingham), Darron Gibson (Everton), Damien Duff (Fulham), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Stephen Hunt (Wolves), James McClean (Sunderland), Paul Green (Derby County).

STRIKERS:Robbie Keane (Aston Villa), Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long, Simon Cox (both West Brom), Jon Walters (Stoke).