O'Shea tells McClean to rid shackles
Skipper John O'Shea has told winger James McClean to cut loose as he attempts to establish himself in the Republic of Ireland team.
Live radio coverage of Rep Ireland v Poland on a special extend Game On on RTÉ 2FM from 7pm (live streaming available worldwide). Highlights on RTÉ Two television from 10.25pm (live streaming RoI only)
The 23-year-old Sunderland winger will win his seventh senior cap in tonight's friendly against Poland at the Aviva Stadium after enduring a relatively slow start to his international career.
McClean burst on to the Barclays Premier League scene in December 2011 after joining from Derry City, but found the going tougher during the early months of the current campaign with defenders paying him particular attention.
However, club-mate O'Shea believes a new-found maturity has seen him through that difficult spell and is confident he is now ready to show what he can do for his country.
O'Shea said: "It's a fantastic opportunity for James.
"He hasn't played the last couple of games for Sunderland, but just before that a couple of months ago, he was scoring goals again and starting to show what I know especially James is capable of and what he has shown in the last couple of days in training.
"The maturity shows, especially defensively. He probably does it too much - he helps out his full-back too much. He probably needs to concentrate more on his attacking game.
"It's a great opportunity for him and I am more than confident he will take it with both hands because he has got the hunger to do well.
"Once you are doing the right things off the pitch, it should come right for you on it, and he has definitely been doing that."
McClean will line up on the left with 21-year-old Robbie Brady occupying the right wing weeks after taking the tough decision to leave Manchester United, the club he supports, for Hull in a bid to play regular first-team football.
O'Shea, of course, learned his trade at Old Trafford and eventually managed to force his way into Sir Alex Ferguson's plans, but he praised Brady for his bravery.
He said: "It's a very brave decision. I suppose in the back of a young lad's mind, you are thinking, 'I could get a chance, I could get a chance'.
"I had a couple of loan moves before it worked out for me with the first team at United, and there's always that doubt in your mind, will you get that chance?
"It's one of those things. I was fortunate, I got the chance and I was able to take it.
"Robbie could have waited, but you kind of get the feeling from the manager there if you are going to get that chance.
"Robbie was back at United for a few weeks training and he thought he might have been involved maybe in one or two games, and when wasn't, he has made the decision.
"It's a very brave one and I think one in the long term he will benefit from massively.
"He has gone to a very good manager at Hull City, and they are going to make a big push for promotion too, so it would be a great achievement if they could get Hull City into the Premier League, and that would be brilliant for Robbie too."