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Sunday 21 April 2019

'It was a difficult one' - James McClean booed as Stoke boss admits he feared upsetting fans by picking him

Stoke City’s James McClean is continually attacked for not wearing a poppy
Stoke City’s James McClean is continually attacked for not wearing a poppy
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland winger James McClean was booed throughout Stoke's 0-0 draw against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, as the furore over his decision not to wear a poppy rumbled on.

Stoke midfielder McClean was disciplined by his club on Friday after he hit out at a minority of the club's fans that abused him over his refusal to wear a symbol that commemorates fallen members of the British military, with his manager Gary Rowett admitting he had a 'tough decision' to select the Derry-born player at the City Ground.

"It was a difficult one to put Macca in and I certainly didn't want to be disrespectful to our fans who were offended by James' comments during the week," stated Stoke boss Gary Rowett.

"I think his comments (on Instagram) were born out of frustration. He knows he can't do that and he knows he can't say it in the way that he did.

"I also felt it wasn't right not to pick a player based on their beliefs and the implications of that. I accept that if I get criticism for that, I will take it on my shoulders, but I felt he performed really well. We wanted to go for a bit of pace and power in the wide positions and James did well."

While McClean stood respectfully through a period of silence that preceded the game at the City Ground, his selection sparked a negative reaction from some Stoke supporters on social media channels.

The Derry-born midfielder will now link up with Martin O'Neill's Ireland ahead of Thursday's international against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

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