Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill hails McClean after star showing

Stoke City 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill

By Robert Jones

Michael O'Neill has threatened to put James McClean on double sessions in the build-up to a possible All-Ireland Euro 2020 play-off final at Windsor Park.

The Stoke winger was man-of-the-match in O'Neill's first home game in charge of the Potters as they came from behind to beat Wigan 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium.

It was a sight that brought a smile to the manager of Stoke City, but if McClean repeats it for the Republic of Ireland in Belfast in March then it could spell trouble for Northern Ireland's Euro qualification hopes.

"We will probably get him doing double sessions all week or 20 kilometres a day," laughed O'Neill, who otherwise avoided questions on a Euro play-off clash with Mick McCarthy's side.

"To be fair to James, he does that anyway."

McClean won the free-kick that led to Danny Bath poking home a Potters leveller after Sam Morsy had threatened to spoil O'Neill's party with a first-half strike for the visitors.

The Londonderry native put his ex-employers to the sword, particularly in the second-half with a virtuoso performance at times.

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O'Neill added: "I have always admired James as a player and he has shown his worth at international level. I thought at Barnsley (4-2 win) he was excellent as well.

"If you simplify the game for James he is very effective and that is what we have tried to do.

"James put in some great crosses today and he is playing with confidence.

"He will be a player who will be massive for us between now and the end of the season."

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