JAMES McClean has put his international career in jeopardy before it has properly got going with another Twitter tirade.
The Sunderland winger was an unused substitute in the Republic of Ireland’s 2-1 win in Kazakhstan yesterday.
After the match he made his feelings on not being used known.
“Delighted as a fan we got the win,” he tweeted. “Personal level #fuming #f***in(g) joke #embarrassing”.
The message was soon removed, but will not endear him to the Republic’s disciplinarian manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
McClean made his international debut in February after an impressive start to Martin O’Neill’s time as Sunderland manager. Italian Trapattoni had suggested the trip to Kazakhstan might see him make his full competitive debut as Ireland rebuilt after post-Euro 2012 retirements.
But when the team was named, the conservative coach once more overlooked McClean.
Ireland were desperately short of flair at the European Championships, yet McClean was limited to brief cameos from the substitute’s bench. He might find his opportunities restricted still further now.
McClean was born in Catholic Derry in Northern Ireland, but under the Good Friday agreement he was able to switch his allegiances to the south.
If the international break has harmed McClean, team-mate Jack Colback thinks it has been badly timed for the club too, preventing the Black Cats building on the momentum of an exciting transfer window.
A quiet summer’s transfer dealing at the Stadium of Light exploded into life when, in the space of less than 24 hours in late August, Sunderland spent £22m on Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson.
That both have enjoyed fast starts at their new club has only added to the excitement on Wearside. It has not escaped Colback’s attention.
“We were always confident coming into the season, and when the gaffer signed two players of their calibre it says a lot about the club, about where the gaffer wants to take it,” he commented. “It’s great for the fans, it gets them buzzing.”
After last season’s dismal opening, Sunderland were determined to start 2012-13 on a better note. For a number of reasons, that has proven difficult.
They opened at Arsenal without Fletcher or Johnson, although it did not stop them coming away with a creditable draw.
To break for internationals less than a month in has hardly helped. Premier League clubs are halfway through a two-week period without any games.
It has been worse for Sunderland because their scheduled home game with Reading was frustratingly called off because of a waterlogged pitch.
“It’s a strange time to have the break,” admitted Colback, one of those left behind at the Academy of Light this week. “You’re just getting into it then you stop, you can’t build any momentum.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s the nature of this league.
“We’ve had a good start – better than last season anyway – but we’re taking each game as it comes and hope we can go on a good run.
“A few early results get the fans with you, gets them buzzing, you can push on from there.”
Colback is excited by the attacking options Black Cats boss O’Neill now has at his disposal.
As important as signing Scotland outcast Fletcher and right-winger Johnson was the news Stéphane Sessègnon had penned a three-year contract extension. Having also signed Louis Saha, they are now confident enough to loan out fringe strikers, with Ryan Noble expected to join Hartlepool United on loan today.
Colback said of Fletcher, who scored twice on his Black Cats’ Premier League debut at Swansea City last week: “He’s scored double figures in the Premier League last year and not a lot of players can do that, he’ll bring a lot of quality to the team, which he’s already shown.
“With James (McClean) on the left and Johnno on the right we look a much more attacking threat.
“The two wide men and the targetman up front keeps opposition defences back, and Sess (Sessègnon) can drop deep and get the ball moving.”