Tuesday 21 November 2017

Darren Fletcher lends James McClean support as Robbie Brady seals deal

West Brom captain Darren Fletcher
West Brom captain Darren Fletcher
James McClean becomes entangled with Walsall’s Romaine Sawyers during a pre-season friendly last night
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

West Brom captain Darren Fletcher has mounted a strong defence of new team-mate James McClean, asserting that his beliefs have caused no problems for the dressing-room.

McClean has been centre of a storm since he refused to turn and face the English flag when God Save The Queen was played before a pre-season friendly in America.

Scotland star Fletcher, who has Irish family, says that he understands McClean's background and disputes any suggestion that the Derry lad is a source of strife.

"He doesn't want to cause upset, he has got his beliefs about a lot of things," said Fletcher.

"But he is not a troublemaker, he hasn't done anything to cause trouble, he has not done any harm to anyone.

"I have got a bit of an insight into it because my mum is Irish and I have got family in Derry," continued Fletcher, whose mother hails from Achill Island.

"It's a real sensitive subject. He's got strong beliefs and it is great that he has those beliefs.

"James has been brilliant, he has settled into the squad fantastically, showed a great attitude. He is a really popular member of the dressing-room.

"He is one of the best athletes I have seen in terms of stamina and running - he is an absolute machine."

The fact that the 26-year-old was given a warm reception by Albion fans last weekend delighted Fletcher, even though he effectively acknowledged that McClean will have to put up with a lot of extra attention this season.

"The fans got behind him at the weekend and that speaks volumes of the Albion fans and I hope that continues," added the former Manchester United star.

"After the incident the rest of the media can have their opinion. The rest of the football fans around the country can have their opinion, but the most important thing I can do is relay to the fans how good a guy he has been.

"I think he is going to be a real good player and a great addition to the squad. For how much the club picked him up for (£1.5m), I think he will be a real bargain."

Meanwhile, McClean's Irish team-mate Robbie Brady has tied up his £7m move to Norwich.

Brady has signed a three-year deal with the option of a fourth after passing a medical on Monday. His relocation from Hull has already been endorsed by Irish assistant boss Roy Keane.

The Dubliner was present at Carrow Road last night ahead of a friendly clash with West Ham. He will receive a substantial boost to his pay packet in East Anglia, and will link up with Wes Hoolahan in his new surroundings.

Closer to home, a hectic week of transfer activity continued yesterday with versatile Conor McCormack completing a move to Derry for the rest of the season after parting company with St Patrick's Athletic.

He's the second player to leave the Saints this week after Ciaran Kilduff signed up with Dundalk, and manager Liam Buckley is also open to waving goodbye to Greg Bolger and Kenny Browne.

Both have been linked with Cork although, in Browne's case, that was before John Caulfield brought in centre-half Stephen Folan from Sligo. As part of that deal, young attacker Rob Lehane has gone the opposite way for the remainder of this campaign.

"He needs to play games," said Caulfield. "Hopefully he will get games and goals up there and come back to us for the start of next season."

Cork have released Kieran Djilali and Josh O'Shea, while Sligo have also added Limerick's Jason Hughes to their ranks.

Irish Independent

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