Saturday 16 December 2017

McClean seeking solution to avoid further issues with problematic back

McClean: Must take care to avoid back problems. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
McClean: Must take care to avoid back problems. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Vienna goalscoring hero James McClean has revealed that the back problem which made him a doubt for Saturday's game is an ongoing issue that will have to be managed.

The match-winner in the World Cup 2018 qualifier had an epidural in a Dublin hospital last Tuesday which eased his pain and allowed him to take his place in Martin O'Neill's side.

McClean said last night that he's had intermittent problems dating back to his time at Derry City and suggested that it will have to be monitored carefully by West Brom and Ireland staff to ensure it doesn't flare up again in the future.

"Over the last few years, I've always had a lot of back issues," he said. "Every few months I'll be stiff. I wake up stiff and sore for a few days and then it eases off. This time it was a bit more sore than normal.

"I did it last Friday and then it was sore then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I basically couldn't walk and was in a bad way so full credit to the medical staff at West Brom and Ireland. The epidural did wonders for it and I managed to get on the pitch and play for as long as I did.

"It was really about doing anything I could to make sure I was available to start the game."

Speaking in an interview with Newstalk's Off The Ball, he described the epidural as a "strange procedure and not something I'd recommend" and admitted that he was going to have to explore ways of avoiding further unwanted hassle in that department.

"It's something I can work at with the club and with Ireland to make sure I strengthen that area so it doesn't keep happening," he said.

In a broad discussion, McClean paid tribute to West Brom boss Tony Pulis for giving him a second chance at Premier League football that has galvanised him.

McClean feels he is a much better player than the raw talent that took the top level by storm in 2012 but was quickly figured out by opposing defenders.

"I was a new kid on the block, something fresh, something new and everyone got excited but you're not always going to bomb past players because they are world class players, they're not stupid," he said.

"They are going to suss you out and double up or show you on to your weaker foot. That's what happened. Now, I'm learning more things about the game and adding more strings to my bow.

"My understanding of the game is a lot better now. Just knowing when to time my runs more and be more aware of my position," added McClean with a nod to his break to collect Wes Hoolahan's pass in the Ernst Happel Stadium.

The 27-year-old has always been praised for his work ethic, yet he would like the other parts of his game to be highlighted and feels that getting on the scoresheet regularly will achieve that aim.

"Getting relegated to League One with Wigan was a low point for me but Tony [Pulis] gave me the opportunity to play Premier League football again, something I always wanted to get back doing," he said.

"When that opportunity came I told myself I was going to give everything to repay his faith. But not only that. I had to lot to prove to myself, that I was a Premier League player after what happened at Sunderland.

"And not just a Premier League player; I feel like I'm a good Premier League player and now I'm starting to show it.

"I get a lot of credit for working tirelessly but I feel I offer a lot more than that and that's something I want to get recognition for. A few goals and assists will go towards getting that recognition."

Irish Independent

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