Give Sunderland’s James McClean a chance – Steve Guppy

Republic of Ireland's James McClean.
Republic of Ireland's James McClean.
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GIOVANNI Trapattoni will not regret it if he decides to unleash James McClean against World Cup winners Spain tonight, says specialist Sunderland coach Steve Guppy.

The former Leicester City and Celtic winger spent weeks last season polishing the raw talent of the Black Cats’ Young Player of the Year.

And he insists the 23-year-old will let no one down if the Republic manager bows to popular opinion and gambles on the wideman’s potential.

He told the Echo: “I’ve seen close up how exciting a young player James is and I’m not surprised there has been a bit of a clamour for his inclusion.

“He is the sort of player who is always positive and looking to make things happen.

“He’s also naturally full of confidence and enthusiasm and I think he’s more likely to rise to the big occasion than be overawed by it.”

Guppy was brought in by Martin O’Neill earlier this year to help McClean develop his skills and refine his approach.

The Sunderland boss, who bought 43-year-old Guppy for Leicester in 1997 before taking him to Celtic four years later, said: “Steve was one of the best crossers of the ball around in his day, it got him an England cap, and James will benefit from his one-to-one tuition.

“Steve has always been a hard worker who looked to improve his game and James is the same type of winger.

“I have trust in Steve who likes the technical side of coaching.

“It’s not so much physical work, not running for miles, just the technical side of things, improving control, trying to read play all out on the practice field.”

Guppy was impressed by McClean’s ability in those sessions and believes that if he does not get the chance to prove himself a star in this tournament, he will do for the Republic in future years.

“My personal view is that if James gets his chance tonight, or on Monday when the Republic play Italy, he won’t let anyone down.

“He’s happy to get back and support his full-back and he does that very well but his natural game is to get forward, beat his man, and put in a cross, and he has it in him to surprise a few people, just as he has done at club level.

“But regardless of what happens in tonight’s game or on Monday, James will have benefited hugely simply from being in this squad and learning what a major tournament is like.

“It will stand him in good stead for the future and training with the quality of players he has done and learning different things from them will be a big help to him.”