JAMES McClean is tailor-made for Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland squad which will contest the European Championships in June, according to Derry City boss, Declan Devine (pictured below).
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And the Brandywell boss felt that it was “very possible” that Derry could be represented by two players in the squad with Darron Gibson also expected to compete for a place on the 23-man panel which will be announced next Monday.
But having coached McClean during his stint at his home town club, Devine held high hopes for the winger, claiming that his emergence at the top level of the game in England continues to be spectacular.
“For me, it’s a no-brainer in relation to James McClean going to the European Championships,” said Devine last night.
“He continues to impress everyone since joining Sunderland last summer and he is considered one of the surprise packages of the season which is about to end.
“James is an athlete whose workrate is exceptional. He has already proved that in the Barclay’s Premiership and now that he is also considered a serious goal-threat, I just do not see how he could be left behind,” added the Brandywell boss.
“Having started every game since Martin O’Neill took over the managerial reins at the Stadium of Light from Steve Bruce, James has gained in confidence. He continues to learn in every game he plays and for me, he’s actually tailor-made for Ireland given the way the team is set up.
“He’s also Trapattoni-type player and I have to be honest, I would be amazed if he’s not on the plane bound for Poland. Nothing seems to faze him and he appears to have got stronger and fitter every time I watch im play for Sunderland each weekend.”
And turning to the possibility of Darron Gibson going to the Ukraine, Devine was also upbeat.
“I think Darron’s move to Everton has done wonders for his career. I’ve no doubt he was bitterly disappointed at leaving Manchester United, but he’s a top professional and I think at Everton he has now joined an excellent club with a top class manager.
“Trapattoni has said in the past that Darron should either go out on loan or move on in an effort to get regular first team football as he was not a recognised first team player at United.
“Now that that has happened, I’m hopeful that Darron will also make the Irish squad for the Euros,” declared Declan.
Commenting last weekend, the 73-years-old Italian certainly boosted James’ confidence when suggesting publicly that the former Derry City player had a “90 to 99 per cent” chance of making the squad.
James, who netted his sixth goal for the “Black Cats” with a powerfully struck free-kick in the 2-2 result against Bolton last weekend, is anxious to be included in the squad, but the 23-year-old refuses to take anything for granted.
In fact, in previous interviews he has maintained that his priority lies at the Stadium of Light and doing everything in his power to assist Sunderland.
However, local sources close to the Creggan Heights lad insist that it would be another dream come true for the flame-haired winger should he claim a spot in the squad next Monday.