REPUBLIC of Ireland chief Giovanni Trapattoni has promised James McClean he has an international future despite missing out on a first senior call-up.
The 22-year-old Sunderland winger was tipped to be included in the Italian’s squad for the friendly clash with the Czech Republic in Dublin on February 29.
But when the 24-man party was announced, the Derry-born midfielder’s name was conspicuous by its absence with Trapattoni sticking to his tried and tested men as preparations for the Euro 2012 finals begin in earnest.
Trapattoni said: “I think all the squad deserve to come with us. They believe us and they know us.
“We have four or five other names because we have no time to change. One is McClean.
“I spoke with him and I said, ‘Congratulations, James, I wish you to come with us’. We now have insurance that he can play with us, and this is important.
“He said, ‘When you decide, call me up’. I told him 100 per cent he will be with us for the future. Now, I’m looking to consolidate.”
McClean’s omission suggests his hopes of making the squad for the finals are forlorn, and now rest on others getting injured.
The midfielder, who was born in Northern Ireland, but has opted to represent the Republic, received clearance from Fifa to do so earlier this week.
He has been watched by the Ireland camp on several occasions this season, and most recently on Wednesday evening when Trapattoni’s assistant, Marco Tardelli, was at the Riverside Stadium for the Black Cats’ 2-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay victory over Middlesbrough.
McClean did not enjoy one of his more productive nights on Teesside, but was widely expected to get the nod to join up with club-mates Keiren Westwood and John O’Shea later this month.
Ireland squad to face the Czech Republic on Feb 29: Shay Given (Aston Villa), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland), David Forde (Millwall); John O’Shea (Sunderland), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Stephen Ward (Wolves), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Sean St Ledger (Leicester), Darren O’Dea (Leeds), Kevin Foley (Wolves); Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Wigan), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Keith Andrews (West Brom), Keith Fahey (Birmingham), Darron Gibson (Everton) Damien Duff (Fulham), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Stephen Hunt (Wolves); Robbie Keane (Aston Villa), Kevin Doyle (Wolves), Shane Long, Simon Cox (both West Brom), Jon Walters (Stoke).