Thursday 14 November 2019

McClean hopes to repay O'Neill's gamble

McClean sat out an intensive session at the stadium yesterday as a precaution due to a bruised bone on his foot, but is confident he can be available for selection.
McClean sat out an intensive session at the stadium yesterday as a precaution due to a bruised bone on his foot, but is confident he can be available for selection.

Liam Kelly

James McClean is targeting the Irish training session tomorrow as an opportunity to prove to Martin O'Neill that he is fit for the fray as Ireland shape up to Poland on Sunday.

McClean sat out an intensive session at the stadium yesterday as a precaution due to a bruised bone on his foot, but is confident he can be available for selection.

To do that, he needs to take a full part in the preparation as match day draws ever closer.

The 25-year-old midfielder has a double motivation to play in this key Euro 2016 qualifier. First, it's a pivotal game against the Group D leaders, and secondly, it offers a chance for McClean to pay off an instalment of the debt of gratitude he owes to O'Neill.

O'Neill took a chance on the Derry man after taking over at Sunderland from Steve Bruce, who had brought McClean over from the Brandywell, and the rest is history.

"I get on really well with him (O'Neill)," said McClean. "We have a really good working relationship. The manager has been great with me. He was great during my time at Sunderland and that has carried on to here. Hopefully I can repay him and everyone else, if selected."

McClean moved on to Wigan Athletic in the summer of 2013, but as the end of the current season approaches, Wigan are in dire straits and struggling to avoid the drop into League One.

"I'll call a spade a spade, it's been a terrible season. There is no getting away from that.

"Hopefully we'll have a good week here and I can go back and take that into the club form as well, because it is going to be needed," said McClean.

There was speculation that he would be moving on during the last transfer window, but it came to nothing. Relegation, however, would almost certainly trigger a chase for McClean's talents.

"I'm no different to any player, I've got an ambition to play at the highest level and League One ain't that," said McClean.

Irish Independent

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