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McClean deserves chance to stake claim

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James McClean

James McClean

SPORTSFILE

James McClean

The bodies will have been tired in the Irish camp when they arrived back in Dublin last night, with not a lot of time to rest and prepare for tomorrow's game at home to Finland.

And I can see Stephen Kenny making changes or at least one change, for the second game of the double header.

It's a quick turnaround and the manager and his staff need time to work with the players but they don't have that, so Stephen has some calls to make before the team play tomorrow.

If the team from Bulgaria is his first-choice side to play Slovakia, then I'd expect him to go with the same team again. There are slots in the side where it's between two players and Stephen needs to try out a few more, ideally tomorrow, to see what he wants for the Slovakia game.

We know what James McClean brings to the Ireland side, but we need to see what he can bring to a Stephen Kenny team.

Stephen's game plan is to move the ball around and it's not one hundred miles an hour, which is often the kind of game that suits James with Ireland.

So tomorrow is a chance to see what James can do. We had pace up front on Thursday but didn't use it well enough, and I think Stephen is still searching for the ideal formation and personnel. Bringing in James for this one would give Stephen an option for Slovakia next month, the one that counts.

It was a big call for Stephen to leave out Seamus Coleman and add in Matt Doherty. I know it's hard to make that judgement but somehow, you need to have Matt Doherty in your team, and now it seems like Matt is in the team and the manager has to find a role for Seamus.

Matt's career is on the way up, with the move to Spurs on the back of the good spell he's had at Wolves, while at the same time Seamus has been in and out of the picture at Everton, though he was still their captain. It's not the end of the road for Seamus and he will have a role with Ireland, but Stephen Kenny needs to find what that role is.

Adam Idah did well on Thursday night in what was a difficult role for him. It's hard to play up there on your own, with two tough centre backs tracking you all the time, but Aaron Connolly did well - he was effective.

He missed a good opportunity in the first half but he kept his head, he won a good few free kicks, he looked like a threat and he was one of the positives from Bulgaria that Stephen will want to take into tomorrow.