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Saturday 10 December 2016

'a Win is all that matters'

Draw at home to Scots is no use to Ireland, star McClean admits

EUro 2016

A BRITISH broadcaster has apologised to their viewers, and by extent the English nation, for the lack of entertainment they provided in that bore-all draw between Ireland and England last Sunday.

Any paying punters who bought tickets for that snore-fest as well as tomorrow's Euro 2016 meeting with Scotland can only hope that they get more to get worked up about when the qualifiers come to town.

There's no guarantee of quality or excitement: when Scotland last played in Dublin (1986), the two squads contained some very fine names from some very fine clubs, with four players from Manchester United (Moran, McGrath, Stapleton, Strachan), four from Merseyside (Beglin, Hansen, Sheedy and Sharp), players from Spurs (Gough), West Ham (Stewart) and a crop of good Scottish-based players.

That Euro qualifier, kicking off at 3.30pm on a grey October day, was a 0-0 draw and as dull as the skies overhead.

Punters in Lansdowne Road tomorrow may hope for more value for money, but for James McClean - hoping to win his 30th cap - it's all about the result.

Giovanni Trapattoni had a ready answer any time that his Ireland side's style of play (or sheer lack of style) was questioned: if you want culture go to La Scala, but football is in another world. McClean feels the same.

Scrappy

"If it takes a scrappy game and an own goal in the last minute, whatever, as long as we get the three points, I don't really care how we get it," McClean says.

"It's three points in the table to get us up the table, by whatever means, it will get three points.

"The main thing is getting the result, whether it's boring to watch or scrappy or whatever, the main thing is getting the result. But if we can put in a performance and win the game as well, it's a double bonus," added the Wigan man.

One of the frustrations in dealing with a group of footballers is the revisionism that goes on. If a player talks up a particular match as a "must-win game" and his side fail in that aim, the "must-win" element is forgotten and a poor draw is painted, somehow, as a positive.

Even the management team have tried to play down the fact that anything but a win for Ireland will make qualification for Euro 2016 very tough but McClean, the straight-talking boy from the Creggan, is more forthright.

"We need three points. We are not going into the game to get a draw, we are going into the game and our sole focus is to win the game. We'll do everything we can to make sure that's the case," he says, denying that a draw could be enough for the home side.

Important

"Not really, then they'll have taken four points off us. It's important we win our home games. If we manage that, then the away games take care of themselves. It's important we get the home points on the board."

What role McClean plays, if any, tomorrow is one of the issues that will occupy Martin O'Neill's mind this weekend. The former Derry City man missed the first game of the campaign (away to Georgia), started the next three, but was only a sub for the last qualifier, at home to Poland. Stephen Hunt hated the term "impact sub'' that attached itself to his career and the same fate could be in store for McClean.

"It's never nice been on the bench. Obviously it's a team game but if you ask everyone in the squad would they want to be on the bench or starting the game, there is only one answer," he admits.

"Look, you don't know what the manager is thinking but hopefully I've done enough to get into the starting line-up, that's where you want to be. You want to make an impact regardless.

"You've a job and that's trying to get to the Euros and as a player, you look back on your career and times like that don't come around too often, so from an individual point, you want to get in the team."

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