James McClean: 'Forget Wigan relegation, I'm fully focused on Ireland games'
McClean ignores club future to focus on Ireland 'derbies'
AS Ireland's players assembled in Dublin for their first training session at the start of this week, it wasn't just the skies over the capital which were grey.
The mood in the camp was pretty dark as well. No fewer than seven of Martin O'Neill's panel finished the season with relegation on their CVs.
Dropping down can add a big weight to a player's back, as the Irish contingent at Wolves well know from their tumble from the Premier League into the third tier. James McClean's club will be in League One next season but the Derry native is already on record as saying he won't stay with Wigan. The winger insists that demotion from the Championship will not weigh him down as he prepares for a busy week of international football.
"No, not at all," says McClean when asked if there was a danger of a 'hangover' from his club's woes.
"What's happened, happened. The longer you do on that the more it adds to your problems. Look, it's done, I'm fully focussed on that and I'm really looking forward to the game," added McClean. What will be will be, I've got games coming up and that's my sole intention, not what happens after that."
On paper, this is an international period with an awful lot of bluster and phoney wars before the real deal, the Euro qualifier against Scotland on Saturday week.
Before that we have a full international friendly (England on Sunday) and also a behind-closed-doors training game with Northern Ireland in Dublin tomorrow - the fact that fans are banned from the game spares McClean the prospect of taunts from Northern Ireland fans who are still upset by his 'defection' to the Republic.
"We've three big games, although I know the Northern Ireland one is only a practice game but it's three local games, three derbies in terms of internationals and we want to win the three of them. Even if it is behind closed doors we want to make sure we win that game. The Northern Ireland lads will be the same. Look, it's Ireland v Northern Ireland and there's still bragging rights. They'll want to win, we'll want to win so hopefully we can win and get the bragging rights," says McClean.
"The England game keeps us focused and the players won't be going through the motions in that game as it's one we want to win. These fixtures don't come around very often and to get a win over England would be nice. It will keep the players' minds focused and sharp and build us up nicely for the Scotland game.".
McClean was one of the few players in green to emerge with credit on a poor night away to Scotland, so he's aware of what's at stake on Saturday week.
"We know we didn't perform on the night, we had an opportunity to go there and pick more points and after the start we'd made to the campaign that knocked us back a bit," he says.
"But against Poland we showed a bit of character, showed what we can do and we were unlucky not to win that game. So we have this game at home. They're fighting for the same qualifying places that we are but we've got them at home and we have to ensure that this time we take advantage and take three points."