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O'Neill: McClean saw red mist before reckless tackle

Ireland boss also believes that ‘phenomenal’ Leicester can continue their remarkable form and win the league.

MARTIN O’NEILL has described James McClean’s sending off for a reckless tackle on Bournemouth’s Adam Smith yesterday as a moment of “red mist”.

McClean was dismissed by referee Mike Dean during West Brom’s 2-1 home loss to the in-form Cherries yesterday.

“I like James, I like James a lot,” he said this morning on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday.

“I gave him his debut at Sunderland I believe. And he certainly turned our fortunes around. And this (tackle on Smith) is red mist.

Source: Clint Hughes

O’Neill alluded to McClean’s, at times, questionable temperament when recalling a similar incident in an Ireland international after the Derry man came on as a substitute.

“His impact in the Republic of Ireland side has been terrific, absolutely massive – some games he has really turned for us. But even Roy said to him (before he went on the field on this occasion), ‘just be careful now, don’t do anything reckless’. Thirty-five seconds later he takes someone’s leg off.”

Leicester

O’Neill also hailed the performance of Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes and believes they can defy the odds to win the English Premier League this season.

The Republic of Ireland boss was the head honcho at Leicester from 1995-2000 and he believes the club can continue their extraordinary form and finish top of the pile next May.

“It is an extraordinary run, it is absolutely phenomenal,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The very fact we’re asking this question, it would seem ludicrous a couple of months ago even with the great, great start. Now you think this is actually possible.

Most expected that this Leicester side’s remarkable run would eventually come to end, yesterday’s win at Everton and the fact they will be top for Christmas has seen many now view them as genuine contenders. And O’Neill agrees.

“They’ve gone to Everton and got a fantastic result. They’ve only been beaten once this season, it’s just incredible. And just for the very first time you’re looking at whether the league is there for them or not.

“You’re starting to think there are gaps developing in European places and then Champions League, and you think it would have to be a fall from grace now not to make that.

“It’s not true of course, but it’s getting to that stage and it is remarkable.”

Euros

O’Neill has also hinted that there are still places up for grabs in his Ireland squad and he is hoping to give a few players a chance in the March friendlies against Switzerland, Slovakia and Holland.

“There is an opportunity in the games in March for some of the younger players to impress,” he said on Goals on Sunday.

“Some players can state a claim for a spot in the Euros squad.”

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