Sunday 25 September 2016

James McClean readied for battle as Ireland gear up for Belgium crunch

Published 16/06/2016 | 02:30

Shane Long, left, and James McClean
Shane Long, left, and James McClean
Martin O’Neill has indicated that the West Brom player has a strong chance of coming into the frame on Saturday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

James McClean is poised to benefit from Jonathan Walters' confirmed absence from the Ireland side for the Bordeaux showdown with Belgium.

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Martin O'Neill has indicated that the West Brom player has a strong chance of coming into the frame on Saturday.

McClean came off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Sweden and has sporadically featured in a central role for Ireland over the past year, although O'Neill is keeping his cards close to his chest as regards formation.

"James McClean comes into it," said O'Neill, when asked about coping without Walters. "It's almost too clichéd to say that James has never let us down.

"The way he trains for us, he is probably unlucky not to be in the starting line-up so he would certainly come into our consideration but there would be a few others too."

O'Neill had suggested he would freshen up his side, but said that Wes Hoolahan is in good condition. He said that Hoolahan was subbed with 12 minutes left at the Stade de France after feeling his calf.

"Wes just pointed over to me," he said. "It was his best ever game. We have a tournament here ahead of us, you know. You want to make sure that it's okay."

Belgium, meanwhile, are confident star duo Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will shake off injury concerns.

Irish Independent

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