Friday 9 December 2016

'We've got the biggest player pool to choose from'- James McClean hails Irish strength in depth

John Fallon

Published 29/03/2016 | 22:54

29 March 2016; Dušan Švento, Slovakia, in action against James McClean, Republic of Ireland. 3 International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Slovakia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
29 March 2016; Dušan Švento, Slovakia, in action against James McClean, Republic of Ireland. 3 International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v Slovakia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

James McClean insists Martin O’Neill has the biggest pool of players to choose from for a major tournament as the auditions for Euro 2016 continued against Slovakia.

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The West Bromwich Albion winger was thrust into a striker’s role alongside Shane Long at Lansdowne Road, with both attackers netting penalties in a 2-2 draw.

“Everyone wants to make that 23 and I'm no different,” said McClean, after scoring his fifth international goal in 36 appearances for his country.

"We've probably a bigger pool of players to choose from now more than ever. Hopefully I've shown what I can do and hopefully I'm selected. I played up front there for a while last season for Wigan. Tonight I played up as a two with Shane Long, a great player, he'll run all day.”

He added: “I think Shane took a knock and was a bit sore for the second one. I've never taken a penalty before so, it being my first one, there was a bit of pressure there.

“Luckily it's gone under the keeper and gone in. We thought we didn't have as much of the ball against Switzerland as we probably wanted. Tonight we had more of the ball. We were caught by a sucker punch just before half time.

“I thought we were comfortable up until that stage but look, there's no easy teams in international football and no team's going to be comfortable playing us either.”

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