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McClean biding time

JAMES McClean hopes he has done enough to win over new Ireland boss Martin O'Neill.

O'Neill showed his faith in McClean by handing him a place in the starting XI for last week's friendly against Serbia; McClean also starting for Ireland in O'Neill's managerial debut against Latvia in November.

"He appears to be happy with me and as I've started in two of the last three games, I can't complain. It's all good and, fingers crossed, I will experience more success before the summer," said McClean, who has tallied 19 senior caps.

The former Derry City man is also enjoying a good spell at club level as he helped Wigan get past Manchester City and secure an FA Cup semi-final meeting with Arsenal next month, the winger coming off the bench early after the break.

"There's no doubt that I've experienced the highs and lows since I arrived in England and it hasn't been easy for me.

"However, I believe the sacrifices that I have made have been positive and I'm now back enjoying my football again which is important," McClean said. "I now have an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium to look forward to but, more importantly, we are pushing to get into the play-offs, and that has to be the priority.

"These are the challenges that I wanted to face since coming over and, thankfully, I feel that the decisions I made have been justified.

"We have a big squad at Wigan and the gaffer opted to rest a few against Manchester City which, I have to say, was disappointing for me as I've been playing well.

FANTASTIC

"But I really was glad to have been brought onto the pitch early in the second half to enjoy what was a fantastic day for the club and our supporters, but the main priority is to get back into the Premiership."

Meanwhile, Wigan's influential Irish midfielder Chris McCann could miss the club's Wembley showdown with Arsenal next month – and may even sit out the rest of the season – with a knee injury picked up during last week's dramatic win over Manchester City.

McCann, 26, has practically been an ever-present for the Latics this season as Uwe Rosler's side chase promotion to the Premier League and retaining the FA Cup.

Dubliner McCann was substituted at half-time during the 2-1 win away to City and that injury has now been confirmed as fracture of the knee cap. The club will decide in the coming days if the player will require surgery but boss Rosler fears that McCann may not be able to play again this term.

"It's a massive blow for us and for Chris, especially coming so soon after the injury to Ben Watson," said Rosler.

"We will do everything we can to make sure Chris gets back to action as quickly as possible and in the best physical condition he can be.

CRUCIAL

"I think Chris has been one of the most used players since I came through the door, he's been crucial for us. He formed part of a very stable midfield alongside Ben Watson and James McArthur," added Rosler.

The injury is a cruel blow for former Home Farm lad McCann, who was enjoying a superb season with Wigan, having joined the club from Burnley at the start of the season.

It is also the second serious injury of his career, as McCann played a big part for Burnley in their feat of winning promotion to the Premier League for the 2009/10 season.

Just seven games into that season in the Premier League, however, disaster stuck as McCann suffered a knee injury and missed the rest of the campaign.

McCann had hoped to use this season to advance his claims for an international call-up after almost a decade on the sidelines. Uncapped at senior level, he also missed out on caps at U21 level after a falling out with then manager Don Givens in 2007. His last appearance in the green shirt was in an U19 qualifier against Slovakia back in 2006.


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