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Sunday 11 December 2016

McClean feels for his team-mates who won't be on the plane to Paris

Stephen Ward celebrates his goal. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Ward celebrates his goal. Photo: Sportsfile

James McClean admits it will be "gut-wrenching" for his team-mates who today were facing up to the fact that they have missed out on Ireland's squad for Euro 2016 and will spend the summer on holiday instead of working towards progress in France.

McClean was one of the few players from the starting XI who made any sort of impression in last night's 2-1 defeat at home to Belarus in Cork, with Martin O'Neill afterwards culling his squad down to the 23-strong travelling party for France.

Final

Darron Gibson, Eunan O'Kane, David Forde, Callum O'Dowda and David McGoldrick all played last night, but missed out on the final squad as did Harry Arter, absent here in Cork due to injury, and Kevin Doyle, whose international career now appears to be over.

McClean was a late bolter for Euro 2012 but there was no repeat for McGoldrick or O'Kane, while the long-serving Gibson leaves the camp as his fellow Derry native McClean heads off to Paris on that flight next Wednesday.

It was just after 10.30pm last night when the FAI confirmed what O'Neill had told the players minutes earlier that they had, or had not, made the cut. It was particularly hard on Forde to miss out at the expense of Keiren Westwood, while David

"It's special if you're on the plane but gut-wrenching if you're not," said McClean.

"A few lads have missed out but hopefully their time will come, whoever was not selected this time."

Ireland had been unbeaten in five games, with just one loss in 13 before last night, but the loss was a hard one to take, given the proximity of the Euros, but McClean feels the side can brush off the defeat and move on to the bigger issues in France.

"It's not nice to finish up here on a losing note, I suppose we can't take too many positives out of it.

"It was a case of players getting in some minutes and getting up their sharpness, but that was about it in terms of positives," he added.

"It's been a great campaign, last night was a friendly and while we don't want to lose, we'd rather lose here in Cork in a friendly than to lose on June 13 against Sweden, so I will take the three points against Sweden on top of this.

Happened

"We didn't want to sign off this way but that's how it happened.

"Every player who is selected wants to play and I am no different, I want to play every minute but so does everyone else.

"Hopefully I have put myself into his mind and hopefully I will be selected," added McClean.

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