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James McClean annoyed at club-before-country players ahead of 50th cap

James McClean will win his 50th Republic of Ireland cap against Mexico railing against players who put club before country.

The 28-year-old West Brom winger has established himself as a regular in Martin O'Neill's team in the last year or so, and in particular during the ongoing qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup finals.

However, he cannot understand how other players can pass up the chance to represent their country.

Asked why he had reported for duty in the United States when most of his Premier League counterparts are only joining up back in Dublin at the weekend, McClean said with a smile: "My wife got bored of me, so she wanted to get rid of me.

"Joking aside, I want to play for my country and I want to get as many caps as possible. If I am fit and feeling good, then I want to play.

"Without singling too many players out, there have been players in the past who pulled out of games with injuries, but always seem to be fit for their club side on the Saturday.

"It annoys me very much, I am not going to lie. How can you be unfit for a game in midweek, but you are fit for the game on Saturday?

"It's not just a one-off thing, it seems to happen a lot. Either you are proud to represent your country... That should be a great honour.

"Go and play, be delighted to pull on the jersey, be proud to be there and if you don't want to be here, don't be there.

"Don't come in and then leave, because you are taking a chance [away] from someone else to come in in the first place."

O'Neill has already indicated that McClean will captain the team at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey during the early hours of Friday morning, although the man himself in taking nothing for granted.

He said: "That would be a great honour - but we're only Tuesday now and the game isn't until Thursday, so until he names the team officially, I'm not going to get carried away with myself."

The stadium is the home of both the New York Giants and the Jets, and while it may not have been built to host soccer, it will always have a place in the former Derry City midfielder's heart after he scored his first senior Ireland goal there in a 5-1 friendly drubbing by World Cup-bound Portugal in 2014.

McClean said: "If you had told me that the MetLife stadium would end up being an important place in terms of my career, I'd probably have laughed at you. But that's just the way it's gone - and I'm over the moon.

"You've ambition and then you've realistic ambition and I wanted to play at the highest level. Being a realist, if you say you're playing with Derry City for all your career, it's where I'm from, it means so much to me and that would have been great.

"But you strive every day to be the best you can be, push yourself and challenge yourself and see how far you can go."

McClean met up with his compatriots after a frustrating end to the domestic campaign which saw him start only two of the Baggies' last seven games, although he has consistently shone when representing his country.

He said: "It boils down to putting pride into that jersey. You put that jersey on and you feel 10 feet tall. When the jersey is on, you're just ready to go.

"Make no mistake about it, I want to play week in, week out. I'm not happy of just being an impact sub and want that put on record."


From Belfast Telegraph