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'James plays with emotion anyway' - McClean set to start after paying respects to friend McBride

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill says the Derry-born winger is “fully-focused” on tomorrow night’s World Cup qualifer with Wales.

McClean alongside Roy Keane and Seamus Coleman,
McClean alongside Roy Keane and Seamus Coleman,
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

MARTIN O’NEILL HAS no qualms about starting James McClean against Wales tomorrow night despite the tragic passing of Ryan McBride.

McClean, a former team-mate and good friend of McBride from his time with Derry City, was left “devastated” after last weekend’s news that the 27-year-old defender had suddenly died in his home.

Candystripes captain McBride, whose funeral took place today, will be remembered before kick-off at the Aviva Stadium, while McClean is set to wear the number five jersey as a tribute.

Derry City fans show their respect to the late Ryan McBride Derry City fans remember McBride. Source: Presseye/Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

McClean — Ireland’s top scorer in the campaign with three goals — has trained with the group all this week, but travelled to Derry to pay his respects to the McBride family on Tuesday before returning to Dublin.

Owen Heary, James McClean and Ryan McBride McClean (centre) with McBride (right) and Owen Heary training for the Airtricity League XI back in 2011. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“James plays with emotion anyway,” O’Neill said at today’s press conference. “If there’s anybody you can talk about wearing his heart on his sleeve, that’s exactly it — almost literally.

I don’t have any problem with that. James is an emotional character, always has been. He was devastated because he knew the lad very well as he played with him.

“Having gone up to the wake, he is fully-focused on the game tomorrow.”

Gavin Cooney
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