The Republic of Ireland manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, today offered the exciting James McClean a golden opportunity of breaking into his championship team by naming him in the starting eleven for tomorrow's friendly match against Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Aviva Stadium (3.00 pm ko).
McClean was a surprise inclusion in the list of 23 players Trapattoni named in his championship squad, the only player untried at international level in the group. Now the Derry winger has been invited to take a major step nearer Trapattoni's first-choice eleven.
It will be McClean's first start and it represents further confirmation of the extraordinary progress he has made since he transferred last Summer from Derry City to Sunderland.
McClean was signed by the then Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, who was monitoring his progress in training and in reserve team when he was replaced by Martin O'Neill in December 2011. One of O'Neill's first decisions was to release McClean on Premier Division defences and he has repaid that trust with a stunning series of vigorous performances.
Trapattoni did not stray far from his regular first-team selection for a game that will afford Ireland's supporters an opportunity to send the team off to Poland and the EURO 2012 finals with a foretaste of the extraordinary support they can expect when they meet Croatia, Spain and Italy.
The other changes he has made were enforced with Keiren Westwood replacing Shay Given in goal, Paul McShane stepping in for John O'Shea at right-back and Darron Gibson in midfield for Keith Andrews. The regulars are nursing minor injuries.
Ireland's team will be:
Keiren Westwood; Paul McShane,. Richard Dunne, Sean St. Ledger, Stephen Ward; Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Darron Gibson, James McClean; Robbie Keane, Kevin Doyle.
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