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McClean switches allegiance to the Republic

On the eve of his move to Premier League outfit Sunderland, Derry-born winger James McClean has declared for the Republic of Ireland.

McLean is on his way to Steve Bruce's Sunderland.
McLean is on his way to Steve Bruce's Sunderland.
Image: ©INPHO/Margret McLaughlin

DERRY CITY’S PROMISING left winger, James McClean, has announced his intention to play senior international football for the Republic of Ireland. The news, confirmed by Paul Ferguson in the Belfast Telegraph, comes as the 22-year-0ld prepares to leave his home club to join Steve Bruce’s Sunderland.

McClean has represented Northern Ireland at youth level and in the Milk Cup, but availed of a FIFA regulation that permits players from Ireland to switch their allegiance to making the transition to senior international level.

The winger claimed it had “always been my dream to play for the Republic and hopefully that will become a reality now that I’m going to be a Sunderland player.”

McClean’s is the sixth such defection from the Irish FA’s international set-up in the last three years and adds to the growing sense of disquiet surrounding Nigel Worthington’s efforts with the senior squad.

Gerry Armstrong, one  of the heroes of Northern Ireland’s 1982 World Cup campaign, will tomorrow assume a new role as the IFA’s  International Player Liaison Officer. He’ll be charged with ensuring that more of the North’s most talented youth players decide to stay with the country at senior level.

On the subject of this most recent abandonment of the international set-up, he struck a pragmatic note:

“Playing for Northern Ireland is a great honour — we need to make sure players realise that from a young age… I’m disappointed in James’ decision but maybe this could be one of those scenarios where I intervene. Ultimately it will be Nigel’s decision.”

The news comes as an unwelcome distraction for Nigel Worthington, as he struggles to ready a depleted squad for a must-win qualifier with the Faroe Islands this Wednesday.

For more information read this story in the Belfast Telegraph>

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