Belfast Telegraph

James McClean's Northern Ireland regrets

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

James McClean has admitted he regrets playing for Northern Ireland at underage level.

McClean regrets northern adventure Regrets: James McClean in action against Middlesbrough last nightJAMES McCLEAN has admitted he regrets playing for Northern Ireland at underage level.

The Londonderry native lined out for Northern Ireland at Under-21 level, but has since declared for the Republic.

He is the latest in a line of young players to avail of the rule that allows them to do so, following Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy and Marc Wilson into the fold.

And the Sunderland winger (22) could get his first Republic call-up when Giovanni Trapattoni names his squad for the February 29 friendly against the Czech Republic. McClean has come in for criticism from Northern Ireland fans and, reacting to one such fan on Twitter, he revealed that he wishes he had not lined out for the country as an underage player.

Asked if he regretted defecting from north to south, he replied to another user: “(I) am sorry for defecting on my country..republic that is wen (sic) i played with the north at underage so yes am sorry for defecting MATE.”

McClean also referred to other former Derry City players Niall McGinn and Pat McCourt who opted to play for Northern Ireland while at Celtic and received bullets in the post. Asked what he thought of McGinn, McCourt and his manager Martin O'Neill playing for Northern Ireland, he replied: “is that same paddy and niall that received bullets in the post because they play for celtic?”

Meanwhile, Kevin Kilbane believes there is no reason why McClean should not be selected in the Republic squad.

The 34-year-old, who will miss Euro 2012 after a back operation, has been impressed by the Derry youngster. “I think everybody deserves a chance to put themselves in the frame and he's certainly doing it,” said Kilbane. “If he gets in the squad and makes an impression, I don't see why he wouldn't make the squad this summer.”

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