Belfast Telegraph

James McClean determined to be in Republic's starting XI at Euro 2012

By Daniel McDonnell

James McClean is targeting a place in the Irish starting XI for the Euro 2012 opener with Croatia and plans to make that point when he arrives in Dublin next week to begin preparations.

The Derry lad was rewarded for his excellent form with Sunderland when he forced his way into Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man squad for the finals, and he's not prepared to just leave it there.

Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady are the established first-choice wingers, but the determined McClean wants to give Trapattoni a headache during the lengthy preparations.

"I'm in the squad and I'm delighted to be in the squad," said McClean yesterday.

"But I'm not going to be here just to make up the numbers and leave it at that.

"We have the training camp and the friendlies coming up (Ireland play Bosnia on May 26 and Hungary on June 4, with a week in Italy in between) and I want to show him that I can leave my mark and give him something to think about when it comes to selecting the team for the first game.

"Hopefully, I'll give him a dilemma."

The 23-year-old hit the headlines earlier this week when he closed his Twitter account after receiving death threats from irate Northern Ireland fans in the wake of the squad announcement.

He is determined to put that controversy behind him and finish his club season on a high against his childhood heroes, Manchester United, this Sunday.

However, he repeated his strong views on his international allegiance, claiming that any Catholic who played for Northern Ireland couldn't possibly feel comfortable lining out at Windsor Park.

"I think any Catholic would be lying if they said they did feel at home, seeing all those flags (Union Jacks) and hearing the songs and chants. For me, I didn't feel a part of it (when he played for Northern Ireland at underage level).

"It's probably the wrong thing to say, but it was just a stepping stone in my career. When I signed for Sunderland, my dream of playing for Ireland became realistic."

Belfast Telegraph

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