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Dublin: 3°C Saturday 26 September 2020

Booing and chanting a motivation for James McClean

The West Brom winger hit the 100 Premier League game mark at the weekend.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

WHEN RORY MCILROY told the beer-filled and partisan American fans at Hazeltine that he ‘can’t hear you’, James McClean knew what he meant.

The Derry native has attracted attention from rival supporters because of reasons ranging from his refusal to wear a poppy each November or his, at times, lively social media activity.

But McClean reached 100 Premier League appearances at the weekend, is playing well and looking fit for his club and is a big part of Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad.

And the boos he prompts at away grounds throughout England each weekend drive him on to be a better player, he insists.

“To be honest, I get booed everywhere but I try to channel that in the right way and use it as motivation,” he says.

“They can boo, they can chant, they can scream this and that but the end of the day they can’t affect what I do on the pitch. It’s just noise from the stands.

“If they’re booing you, it makes you think ‘well, I’m going to prove you wrong’. That’s me as a person. You can sulk or you can say ‘I’m going to show you’. It’s like someone telling you you can’t do something, you want to be determined to show them you can.”

McClean hit that top-flight appearance record in a 1-1 draw amid a hostile reception at his old club Sunderland.

“Of course, it was a nice, wee landmark for me and my family at the weekend — a hundred up in the Premier League. Hopefully it’s the first of a few hundred!” he said at Abbotstown yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier with Georgia at Lansdowne Road.

“Now I want to become a regular, not just at club level, but international level as well. The Belgium game aside, I’ve had a good tournament (at the Euros). Hopefully, I’ve done enough to show the manager he can trust me from the start and not as an impact sub.

“I’m raring to go and hopefully this is the campaign that I finally nail down a place as a player in the first XI.”

After tomorrow’s game in Dublin, of course, Ireland travel to take on Moldova to complete what McClean hopes will a good week’s work for the Boys in Green.

“We need to take six from six here, without putting any other pressure on us. We want to qualify and only one qualifies automatically.

“It’s a very tough group with very evenly-matched teams so I think if we are to qualify we need to take six points from these two games.

“But it’s very dangerous to look beyond Thursday’s game. Let’s get three points there first and then take the next one as it comes. Hopefully we’re smiling come Thursday night as we have another three points on the board.”

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