McClean keeps Euro dream alive

PA Sport
James McClean

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James McClean

James McClean is determined not to be a one-hit wonder after making his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland.

The Sunderland winger got his big chance as a late substitute in Wednesday night's 1-1 friendly draw with the Czech Republic in Dublin after manager Giovanni Trapattoni finally answered the clamour for the 22-year-old's inclusion.

Trapattoni's loyalty to the squad means McClean's chances of going to Euro 2012 are slim, but the 22-year-old is determined to add to his first cap. He said: "You want to try to get as many caps as possible for your country, and I am just over the moon to get my first one. But at the same time, I want to push on and in the future, maybe get into more squads."

McClean's big night at the Aviva Stadium came just seven months after he represented the Airtricity League in the Dublin Super Cup, a tournament which took Manchester City, Celtic and Inter Milan to Dublin at the end of July.

A few weeks later, he completed his £350,000 move to Barclays Premier League Sunderland, and his emergence under new manager Martin O'Neill since December has been spectacular.

McClean admitted he could hardly have expected his career to have taken off as it has.

He said: "To be honest, no. If you had told me that, I would probably have laughed at you. It's been a great few months for me - and hopefully now the next few months can be even better."

Whether or not his Euro 2012 hopes are forlorn, McClean returned to Wearside to prepare for Sunday's derby clash with Newcastle knowing only a continuation of his current run of form will result in further international honours.

He said: "At the end of the day, that's my main focus, to do well with Sunderland. The only way I am going to get international recognition is by doing well for them. Hopefully we can go on and have a good end to the season and try to get as many points as we can and get as high in the table as we can."

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