Derry born footballer and Republic of Ireland international, James McClean, has defended his decision not wear a Remembrance Day Poppy when playing for Stoke City.
The 29 year-old winger is maintaining the same stance he took when he played for former clubs Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and West Bromwich Albion.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, Stoke City confirmed McClean would not be wearing a football jersey with a Remembrance Day Poppy in games against Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forrest.
“I know many people won’t agree with my decision or even attempt to gain an understanding of why I don’t wear a poppy," said McClean in the statement.
“I accept that but I would ask people to be respectful of the choice I have made, just as I’m respectful of people who do choose to wear a poppy.”
Stoke City set out the club's stance and said whilst they respect McClean's decision the club will continue to support the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal.
“As a club we will be supporting the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal by wearing the poppy on our home shirt in the fixture against Middlesbrough on November 3 and on our away shirt in the fixture against Nottingham Forest on November 10," said a Stoke City spokesperson.
"The club is proud of its close connections with the Armed Forces and have also invited members of the Armed Forces to join our remembrance at the Middlesbrough fixture.
“However, we recognise that the poppy means different things to different individuals and communities and (like the Royal British Legion) do not believe that anybody should be forced or even pressured to wear the poppy against their free will.
"James [McClean] has informed us that he will not be wearing a Remembrance Day Poppy in our next two games. We respect his decision and his right to follow his own convictions."