West Bromwich Albion manager, Tony Pulis, has confirmed he has spoken to Derry-man, James McClean, over his decision to not face the English flag during a rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’ at the weekend.
McClean, 26, polarised opinion all over the world after he did not look in the same direction as his team-mates during the English national anthem before a friendly match between West Bromwich Albion and Charlestown Battery in North Carolina.
West Bromwich Albion boss, Pulis, had been tight lipped on the incident until now. The ‘Baggies’ manager said while he believed McClean’s actions to be ill-judged he had nothing but praise for the way in which the Creggan Heights born star has applied himself throughout the team’s recent tour of the USA.
“I didn’t see the situation but I had a chat with him and explained what we do as a football club and the way we are and I think he’s fine with everything,” said Pulis.
“We’ve got Northern Ireland lads in the squad and he’s been absolutely fantastic with them, and the way he’s mixed and integrated with the group has been brilliant.
“I’ve seen the pictures and he’s got to turn towards the flag like everybody else has and he recognises that.
I’ve seen the pictures and he’s got to turn towards the flag like everybody else has and he recognises thatWest Bromwich Albion boss, Tony Pulis
“He thought he was OK to close his eyes and put his head down in respect of both anthems.
“The trouble is he’s got to face the flag.”
Pulis continued: “Obviously there has been a stigma around him and he doesn’t need to start that up again.
“So hopefully we’ve nipped it in the bud and we can get on with our things and he can get on with his things.
“I think the fact he’s part of what we’re trying to do is important.
“We want him to be as open and honest as he possibly can within the group and the group want to be as open and honest as they can with him.
“It’s just about integrating him and him understanding the rules we work to at the club and we’re all together on and off the pitch.
“Whatever you ask him to do, he does. He’s trained with a smile on his face and he’s been really good around the place.”
McClean scored a beauty in Albion’s final pre-season game in the US, netting the first in the 2-1 win against the Richmond Kickers.
Pulis added: “He’s been fantastic in his energy levels and the way he works.
“He’s been a fantastic player so far for us.”