McClean gets Ireland call for Euro 2012
Giovanni Trapattoni granted the wishes of thousands of Republic of Ireland supporters when he included Sunderland rising star James McClean in his squad for the 2012 European Championships on Monday.
The 23-year-old winger was a relative unknown six months ago but got his big break when then Sunderland boss Steve Bruce from Derry City for £350,000 (430,000 euros, $565,000) before the start of the season.
However, it was under former Northern Ireland midfielder Martin O'Neill, Bruce's successor as boss of the Black Cats, that McClean got his chance to shine in the English Premier League, coming off the bench to inspire the side in their 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers that revived their ailing fortunes.
"When he came on against Blackburn, it seemed a pivotal moment. He electrified the crowd," recalled O'Neill.
McClean's club form led to widespread calls for his international call-up, a thorny issue since he'd already opted to represent the Republic rather than the British controlled province of Northern Ireland where he was born.
Veteran manager Trapattoni initially refused to bow to public pressure, the 73-year-old Italian keeping McClean waiting until injuries led him to be called up for the February friendly against the Czech Republic where he made his debut off the bench -- his only senior cap to date.
But Wigan midfielder James McCarthy won't be in the squad after being asked to be omitted after his father was diagnosed with cancer.
In a statement issued by the Football Association of Ireland, McCarthy said: "I have made the very difficult decision to withdraw my name from selection from the Euro 2012 squad following the diagnosis of my father with cancer and an ongoing requirement for treatment.
"I have discussed this with the manager. He was very understanding and I thank him sincerely for that."
The Republic have been drawn in a tough Group C with reigning European and world champions Spain, Trapattoni's native Italy and Croatia. The top two teams in the pool qualify for the quarter-finals.
Trapattoni's men face friendly internationals at home to Bosnia (May 26) and away to Hungary (June 4) before starting their Euro 2012 campaign against Croatia in Poznan on June 12.
Euro 2012 represents the Republic's first major tournament appearance since the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Having lost in a controversial playoff to France that ruled them out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Republic beat Estonia over two legs to qualify or Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
Goalkeepers: Shay Given (Aston Villa/ENG), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland/ENG), David Forde (Millwall/ENG)
Defenders: John O'Shea (Sunderland/ENG), Stephen Kelly (Fulham/ENG), Stephen Ward (Wolves/ENG), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa/ENG), Sean St Ledger (Leicester/ENG), Darren O'Dea (Leeds/ENG), Kevin Foley (Wolves/ENG)
Midfielders: Glenn Whelan (Stoke/ENG), Keith Andrews (West Brom/ENG), Keith Fahey (Birmingham/ENG), Darron Gibson (Everton/ENG), Damien Duff (Fulham/ENG), Aiden McGeady (Spartak Moscow/RUS), Stephen Hunt (Wolves/ENG), James McClean (Sunderland/ENG)
Stand-by: Darren Randolph (Motherwell/SCO), Paul McShane (Crystal Palace/ENG), Paul Green (Unattached), Seamus Coleman (Everton/ENG), Andy Keogh (Millwall/ENG)
Republic of Ireland Fixtures
May 26, Dublin: Republic of Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Jun 04, Budapest: Hungary v Republic of Ireland
Euro 2012 Group C
Jun 10, Poznan: Republic of Ireland v Croatia
Jun 14, Gdansk: Republic of Ireland v Spain
Jun 18, Poznan: Republic of Ireland v Italy
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