IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni believes James McClean will develop into a winger capable of playing on either flank.
McClean has played all his football for Sunderland on the left flank since his summer arrival from Derry City, albeit he spent a 15-minute spell at left-back during last weekend’s rout at West Brom.
But Trapattoni, set to hand McClean his senior international bow in tomorrow’s friendly with the Czech Republic, believes the 22-year-old will be capable of excelling on the right as he continues his development.
Trapattoni said: “Now he plays on the left but I think in the future he can play left or right because he has a good personality.
“When he has the ball he knows what he can do. At the moment he is young but he has enough experience.”
Despite McClean’s expected involvement at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow, the former Derry City man is far from guaranteed a spot in the squad for Euro 2012, with Trapattoni pledging to keep faith with those who secured qualification.
But assistant manager Marco Tardelli believes the Sunderland man could force his way into the final 23-man party, particularly if Ireland are hit by injuries.
“James McClean is a good player and I think for the future, he is good,” said Tardelli. “But maybe it is possible if a player is injured – like at this moment when we have three or four players injured. Everything is possible.
“We have in our heads the players, but now we have discovered other new players and we have time to decide. Friendly matches are very important to see new players and to understand if they can go or not to the Euros. But I think these players are for the future.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland keeper Keiren Westwood has pulled out of tomorrow’s friendly with a wrist injury.
H Sunderland defender John Egan has been named the Republic of Ireland’s under-19 Player of the Year.
The Cork-born centre-half captained Ireland U19s to the semi-finals of the European Championships after signing professional terms at Sunderland.
H Sunderland second string’s trip to Manchester United this week has been rescheduled for Thursday (7pm) at Altrincham FC.
The reserves will be next in action when they make the trip to the Sports Direct Arena to tackle Newcastle United on Thursday, March 8 (7pm).