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Friday 15 December 2017

McClean deserves his chance

IT'S a wonder Giovanni Trapattoni managed to keep a straight face when he took out a barge-pole, pushed James McClean to the back of the queue and told us he is one for Brazil.

Sitting amidst the glittery splendour of Waterford Crystal's cinderella showroom a few weeks back, he smiled and squashed all our hopes about the Sunderland winger in a heartbeat.

Who's the boss? He's the boss and forget this wild nonsense about McClean or anyone else for that matter. He delivered that message and saw some nice glass.

Football is theatre for Trap and he acts out his part with great relish even though he has run these lines past sceptical audiences a thousand times before.

McClean as the 'young hopeful' fitted the bill for a media which has been starved of something solid to focus on since the draw for Euro 2012 was made and every possible detail about Gdansk and Poznan parsed and analysed to death.

Richard Dunne's acrobatic fall onto his shoulder stirred primeval fears we haven't felt since Roy Keane's hip became the object of forensic examination in the run up to World Cup 2002. Little did we know.

But even Dunne's injury is not a great cause for concern, especially after reassurance provided by Shay Given.

"Dunney will play even if it isn't alright," laughed the last line of Ireland's defence and everyone slept a little easier.



Addicts

Thin gruel then for Ireland addicts and hence the build-up behind McClean. His work in the Premier League has lifted the heart and cannot not be ignored. But Trapattoni knows this and McClean was taken off the menu for a variety of reasons.

Take your pick from an attempt to ease the pressure, damp down expectations, reassure his loyal soldiers or nail any suggestion that the popular vote was relevant to his thinking. All are equally valid.

He senses the change in pace around the media, the appearance of strange faces at press conferences and the odd boisterous media personality on a mission.

He was asked out on a date by someone at a recent media briefing and it will get worse. In that context, he was probably right to sit on McClean until closer to Wednesday's friendly against the Czechs. Once you turn on that kind of spotlight, it's hard to switch it off.

There is, of course, a persistent, nagging thought about Trapattoni, a bit like a sinew caught between molars after a big steak, which suggests that he trusts too much to DVDs for his information and underestimated McClean's development.

Shay Given had no qualms about giving McClean a go. Trapattoni changed his mind on Monday and decided to call for McClean and Paul Green.

Everyone needs a lift and something to hold onto during the long three-month hiatus between the Czech game and Bosnia on May 24 and McClean has stepped forward at just the right time.

Give him a run Trap and let's see what he can do.

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