Rowett stands behind 'human' McClean in abuse row

Stoke City’s James McClean. Photo: Getty

Daniel McDonnell

Stoke City manager Gary Rowett says that the Championship club cannot condone some of James McClean's social media activity.

But he has endorsed the character of the Irish international and believes he is only human to respond to a stance on the poppy that has resulted in death threats and hate mail.

McClean is in the spotlight after hitting back at fans from both sides who abused him as he left the pitch in last weekend's league game with Middlesbrough.

The 29-year-old was warned by the FA about his use of language in an Instagram post where he called the boo boys "uneducated cavemen".

He was infuriated by that FA probe and said they should look into the anti-Irish comments aimed at him. Rowett has indicated he's in a delicate position with the club unhappy with McClean's posts.

However, he appears ready to involve the player in tomorrow's game with Nottingham Forest.

"He's been sent stuff which I've seen," said Rowett, referring to packages sent to the training ground. "You can understand why he reacts. He's only human.

"We spoke to James about it and I think his response was out of frustration, probably ill-judged.

"Certainly criticising a minority of our fans is not the way to go and we spoke to him about that. We can't condone that but I think when you understand the background to his beliefs and you see that his family have had death threats, you see that his wife and kids have had abuse.

"I appreciate there's going to be a very mixed reaction to whatever decision I make but I stand behind him as a footballer and squad member. What I would like to do is get the best out of him."