McClean backed for Euro spot
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill is tipping James McClean to play a starring role at Euro 2012 if he earns a late call-up for Ireland.
The 23-year-old former Derry City winger will discover on Monday if he has earned a trip to the finals with the Republic but his club manager would definitely have included him if the decision was his to make. His national team coach Giovanni Trapattoni is also thought to share O'Neill's opinion after seeing him take the Premier League by storm during the last six months. Trapattoni has already indicated that McClean has a "90 to 99 per cent chance" of making the 23 for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, and O'Neill is keeping everything crossed in the hope that a man who has sprung to international contention in spectacular style gets the chance to show what he can do for his country. The Ulsterman said: "I am not saying to put him into the team - I am not saying anything, really, because Trapattoni doesn't need me to pick his team, he is doing that pretty well himself. "He has had a great couple of years there. The Republic are going there with tried and trusted players, players who have played for him and who have eked out results for him. But for James, it would be a fantastic experience, for a start. "I actually believe he could make a contribution, even if it was coming off the bench. I would say that anyway, but he's been terrific for us, really terrific, and he would certainly not be out of place, far from it. In fact, he could make a mark in that competition. But if he is not chosen for it, myself I wouldn't be too down-hearted about it. Maybe it would give him a chance in the summertime to just reflect on how well he has done and what he can maybe achieve next year, staying clear of serious injury, of course."