Wednesday 26 September 2018

O'Neill: Ireland stars need to be playing at high level to make squad

James McClean on the brink of a move back to the Premier League

James McClean is in the Republic of Ireland squad to take on Poland on Sunday
James McClean is in the Republic of Ireland squad to take on Poland on Sunday

PREMIER League target James McClean says he's on his way out of Wigan Athletic - and Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has told the winger and David Forde that they need to move clubs to keep their international ambitions alive.

Wigan and Millwall are destined for League One next season.

And while they are both under contract, the prospect of playing in England's third tier does not appeal and they're expected to move on.

Hull City's relegation from the Premier League will cast doubt on the futures of their four-strong Irish contingent but it's time for McClean to move on, with Premier league and Championship sides tracking the 26-year-old.

"I've said dozens of times that when I'm a club manager, the last thing I want to hear is an international manager saying that my player should be playing for Real Madrid or something like that but things I'm sure will develop over the summer," said O'Neill of McClean and Forde.

"For their own benefit it is important to be playing as high as they possibly can."

McClean said: "No disrespect to Wigan or anyone in League One but I am an ambitious person, I want to play at the highest level, I have international aspirations as well, so I don't think League One will help me with that. Whatever happens in the next few months other people will deal with that but League One is not somewhere I want to play."

SEE PAGE 56-57

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