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'He just needs to believe in himself a bit more' - McClean's advice for young Irish club mate

The winger has been impressed by 18-year-old defender Dara O’Shea at West Brom.

O'Shea in action for the Baggies during a pres-season friendly.
O'Shea in action for the Baggies during a pres-season friendly.
Image: Martin Rickett

AS A FELLOW Irishman, James McClean has taken particular interest in how Dara O’Shea is developing at West Brom.

Dubliner O’Shea, who came through schoolboy football at St Kevin’s, progressed to the Baggies U23s and featured for the first team during pre-season friendlies last summer.

Having worked closely with the 18-year-old centre-half, Ireland winger McClean even offered him some advice.

“I like Dara a lot, I think he’s got a real good chance,” the Derry man said yesterday. “He’s a no-nonsense defender and I think if he believes in himself a bit more, he’ll have a real chance of playing at a decent level.

“I just think he needs to believe in himself a bit more and get a bit more confidence.

“Obviously, being Irish you’re going to have a bit more interest. I remember the very first game of pre-season, we made 11 changes at half-time and brought Dara on in the second half.

“I think he was a bit nervous on the ball, trying to force things a little and I remember having a word with him at the airport, saying ‘If you believe in yourself more and relax, you can be a really good defender. Just try to keep it as simple as possible’. I’ll try to give him as much advice as possible and hopefully he takes it on board.”

O’Shea, who captained and scored for Ireland’s U19s in their recent win over Romania, is currently on loan at Hereford (in the Southern League Premier Division) after being farmed out until the end of the season.

McClean himself has endured an extremely frustrating time at West Brom of late. 15 of his 22 league appearances — for the club languishing bottom of the table — this season have come off the bench as sacked manager Tony Pulis and his replacement Alan Pardew mainly used him as a bit-part player.

“[I've played] nowhere near as much as I would like to,” he said. “It’s not been ideal considering where we are in the league. So it’s been really frustrating, but I played really well on Saturday in the FA Cup, so hopefully I can get a start now this weekend against Huddersfield as well.

I feel I’m at my best when I get a run of games. So far, that’s eluded me this season. So hopefully now I can build on Saturday’s performance, have another good game, we get a win, and we take that confidence going forward to a crucial part of the season because we need wins and we need wins very fast.”

Championship club Derby County were hoping to bring McClean in at the end of the January window, but it never materialised with the Baggies believed to be looking for £15 million.

While he would be open an exit from The Hawthorns at the end of the campaign, the 28-year-old is fully focused on avoiding relegation.

“It [the Derby move] was on the cards but it didn’t happen,” he explains. “I can sulk, but at the end of the day I’ve got a job to do here at West Brom. My main focus now is to get my head down, be the best I can be, help West Brom pick up points and avoid the drop this season.

“We’re going to need everyone pulling in the same direction. There’s no time to sulk – I’m a professional, I’m employed by West Brom, and while I’m at here I’ll give 110% to ensure I do the best for them.”

Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League - Etihad Stadium McClean up against Man City's Bernardo Silva. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

It has been a troubled week for the struggling club as four players were forced to apologise after alleging stealing a taxi in Barcelona and driving it to the fast food restaurant before leaving the car outside their luxury hotel.

Five points adrift of 19th-place Stoke City, the Baggies now have Huddersfield, Watford, Leicester City, Bournemouth, Burnley and Swansea in the next six league games.

And McClean believes their top flight status will be either retained or lost there.

I think the next five or six games determine whether we stay up or go down, so we need to start by beating Huddersfield on Saturday,” he added.

“There’s no easy game in this league, far from it, that shows as we’ve won three games all season. If you look at our squad on paper you’d say we shouldn’t be where we are but the reality is we are where we are.

“It’s up to us to turn that around and only we can do that but come Saturday I can’t stress enough that we need three points. Anything less is a disaster.”

James McClean launched Neymar Jr’s Five, Red Bull’s unique five-a-side football tournament for men and women, in Dublin yesterday. The tournament is a fun, fast-paced and technical game that gives young Irish male and female footballers (16-25 yrs.) the opportunity to represent Ireland at the World Final in Brazil this summer. To participate in the regional qualifiers this February, teams of five to seven players must register at www.neymarjrsfive.com and select their preferred qualifier in either Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, Galway, Cork or Carlow with more qualifiers to be added in the coming weeks

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Ben Blake

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