Wednesday 26 October 2016

McClean keen to turn the screw

Published 11/06/2015 | 17:06

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean is looking to pile the pressure on Euro 2016 rivals Scotland
Republic of Ireland winger James McClean is looking to pile the pressure on Euro 2016 rivals Scotland

James McClean has challenged his Republic of Ireland team-mates to pile the pressure on Scotland by leap-frogging them back into contention for Euro 2016 qualification.

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The Scots, who head for Dublin on Saturday, are currently neck and neck with world champions Germany in pursuit of Group D leaders Poland in the race for a place in France.

However, victory for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium would see Martin O'Neill's men, who currently trail Scotland by two points, go above them, and that will provide the perfect motivation .

Midfielder McClean said: "The pressure is on them as well - if they lose the game, we go ahead of them, so there's pressure on both teams and make no mistake about it, we'll be going out all guns blazing to try to get the win.

"It's like an international derby. Both teams don't want to lose - both teams didn't want to lose in November either, and that's what made it a tight, scrappy affair.

"But look, we know we need to win this game on Saturday, so hopefully we come flying out of the blocks and we take the game to them."

That November fixture in Glasgow saw the home side run out 1-0 winners courtesy of Shaun Maloney's second-half strike on a night when Ireland failed to hit the heights.

There is a collective acceptance that they will have to be significantly better this time around if they are to prosper, although McClean admits he does not care how they play as long as they get the victory they need.

He said: "Prior to the Scotland game, we'd had a bright start to the group and we want to build on that come Saturday.

"They beat us in November and we didn't perform by any means in a tight, scrappy game. But look, if it's a tight, scrappy game on Saturday, hopefully we can nick this one.

"We are right in the group and we'll take the game to Scotland. But whether it's an exciting performance or it's a dull performance, if we get three points, we're not really bothered either way.

"We have had other games since then, so you can't dwell on it too much. But this game has come around now, it's Scotland that's the next game and would be nice to put November's game right.

"If it's a scrappy game and it takes an own goal in the last minute, then so be it."

McClean has been used as a substitute by O'Neill in recent games and announced his arrival in March's 1-1 draw against the Poles with a crunching tackle.

If it is his ability for get forward at pace and deliver balls into the box which is his major weapon, his physicality can also be an asset, and that is not something he will shy away from.

He said with a smile: "I was just playing my normal game. I have got something like 13 bookings this season at club level, so I think that speaks for itself.

"That's my game, I'll play my normal game. The way that the sport is going now, if you look at someone the wrong way, you get a yellow card.

"It's a team game, it's not about yourself. If you have to cover back and pick up your man, then so be it. It helps the team and if you're helping the team, it all goes towards a good result if everyone is doing their jobs."

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