In recent weeks I’ve heard people question Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s judgement over James McClean’s potential inclusion in the squad that will travel to the European Championships this summer.
Creggan Heights lad McClean made his debut for the ‘Boys in Green’ against the Czech Republic last month and since joining Sunderland last August he has fast become one of the ‘Black Cats’’ best players.
Trapattoni, who turns 73 next Saturday, has not made a secret of the fact that he wants to remain loyal to the group of players who helped Ireland to the promised land of Poland and Ukraine but in the last few days he revealed that he has yet to make his mind up about McClean.
It’s hard to find fault with Trapattoni. After all, he’s the man to lead Ireland to their first set of European Championship finals since 1988 and the first set of competitive finals since the World Cup in Korea and Japan in 2002.
Trapattoni is one of football’s most successful managers and his tenure as Ireland boss has been paved with great success.
The Italian born coach has made following the Republic of Ireland an experience that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fans would love to have.
Trapattoni’s judgement has been spot on ever since he replaced Steve Staunton as manager back in 2008 and no-one can doubt his passion and determination.
So, when I heard a few football aficionados in Derry criticise Trapattoni for not confirming in February that McClean will be at the Euros in June, I have to admit I thought they were being extremely partisan and unrealistic.
I am going to the European Championships in the summer and having someone like McClean, who I have met and interviewed countless times, in the team would make the trip extra special.
However, Giovanni Trapattoni’s the manager and we have to respect that.
It’s totally absurd to expect him to commit to bringing McClean to Poland. A lot can happen between now and the summer.
Be that as it may, if someone was to ask me to bet on whether McClean will be in the squad for Ireland’s first game on June 10 against Croatia, I would say that I think he’ll be there.
McClean epitomises what can be achieved, not just in the world of sport, with hard work.
There’s no doubting McClean’s skill and ability but it’s his work ethic that impresses me the most.
Skill and ability come naturally but the desire to work hard is something that has to be instilled. And it’s for that reason that I think he’ll be on the plane to Poland.
I remember watching him play for Derry City against Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell a few years ago. He lost possession of the ball on the half-way line.
Now, some footballers would instantly throw in the towel but not McClean. He chased the player the whole way into the 18 yard box before making a top class tackle to win back possession.
McClean has got to where he is because of what he can do with a football but talk to Declan Devine, Stephen Kenny and now Martin O’Neill and they will all tell you that his attitude towards football is second to none.
Whilst I think it was unreasonable of fans to expect Trapattoni to commit to bringing McClean to Poland in February I believe that the Italian will be left with no choice but to bring him because he’s the type of player that all managers dream of selecting.