McClean set for early Ireland link-up
James McClean will join up with Ireland's Euro 2012 squad early to undergo a crash course in international football.
The 23-year-old Sunderland winger's dream season reached new heights when he was named in Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man party despite having played only a few minutes of senior international football.
But while most of his Barclays Premier League colleagues will not meet up in Dublin until May 20, McClean will arrive three days earlier along with players from the npower Championship to work with Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli.
The 73-year-old Italian was in good form as he announced his squad and finally confirmed the news the nation had been awaiting when he included McClean.
Asked what he had said to the former Derry City man when he called him to tell him he would be going to Poland and Ukraine, he said, to some amusement: "'James, you are in our list'.
"It was a surprise because I read in an Irish newspaper that he wasn't in! I said, 'I have seen you in many games, but can you come three or four days before because you can also improve'.
"He can train with us and learn our system. In his club, he plays in one position and he has only played one game for us. Maybe we can look at other situations. He said 'Thank you', and he will come on May 17."
Trapattoni has drafted in the exciting prospect after an exhilarating six months on Wearside in which he has gone from promising reserve to first-team regular.
However, while he has played as an out-and-out left winger for the Black Cats, Trapattoni will also consider using him on the right as he attempts to cover tried and trusted wide men Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady.
He said: "There are many examples of left-sided players playing on the right. I said to James if he can try to play on the right, it might open up the pitch. We want three or four days to work better to try this situation."