Sunderland’s James McClean waits on Irish call-up

GOAL-DEN WONDER ... Sunderland's James McClean (front right) celebrates with team mates after scoring the only goal of the game against Stoke City.
GOAL-DEN WONDER ... Sunderland's James McClean (front right) celebrates with team mates after scoring the only goal of the game against Stoke City.
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JAMES McClean insists he remains in the dark over his rumoured call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad.

The Sunderland winger is expected to be named in the Ireland squad on Friday, ahead of an international friendly with the Czech Republic at the end of the month.

It would cap a remarkable rise for McClean, who only made his first Premier League start five-and-a-half weeks ago.

But the 22-year-old, who declared his allegiance to the Republic rather than Northern Ireland last summer, says he is yet to hear from Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni despite the speculation.

McClean said: “I’ve read some of the stories about me possibly being called into the Ireland squad for the match against the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium at the end of the month.

“But I think I would be the last to know about that. No-one has contacted me and while it would be another dream come true for me, I’d rather get on with my development and Sunderland.

“Obviously, I’m chuffed to see my name mentioned at international level but until it happens, I don’t intend to get carried away,”

Trapattoni had pledged to remain loyal to those who secured Ireland’s qualification for next summer’s European Championships.

But McClean’s impact for the Black Cats has made it impossible for the Italian to ignore the former Derry City man’s credentials.

McClean’s match-winning goal in last weekend’s win at Stoke City was his third in eight starts under Martin O’Neill and the Sunderland boss has backed the wideman to force his way into the Euro 2012 squad.

“I think he’s more than capable of going (to Euro 2012),” said O’Neill. “I don’t know Trapattoni and I haven’t spoken to him at all.

“He’ll have the players he wants to stay pretty loyal to, those who’ve got him there through thick and thin. Somebody fresh wanting to get in might be difficult.

“But could he go there on merit? Absolutely. I don’t see any reason why not.

“Hopefully he’s making such an impact he’ll be watched by someone in the Ireland camp, even if it’s not Trapattoni. They couldn’t fail to be impressed.”