James McClean says his understanding of football “is a lot better now”.
The West Brom winger has been in excellent form for Ireland, bagging three goals in his last two appearances from midfield.
The 28 year old discussed the back injury which nearly kept him out of Ireland’s 1-0 win in Vienna on Saturday, a game in which he scored the winner.
“Over the last few years, I’ve always had a lot of back issues,” he told Off The Ball.
“Every few months I’ll be stiff. I wake up stiff and sore for a few days and then it eases off. This time it was a bit more sore than normal.
“I did it last Friday and then it was sore then Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I basically couldn’t walk and was in a bad way so full credit to the medical staff at West Brom and Ireland. The epidural did wonders for it and I managed to get on the pitch and play for as long as I did.
“It was really about doing anything I could to make sure I was available to start the game.”
McClean also discussed the difficulties he faced when he arrived to the Premier League in 2012, and how he has improved since then.
“I was a new kid on the block, something fresh, something new and everyone got excited but you’re not always going to bomb past players because they are world class players, they’re not stupid,” he said.
“They are going to suss you out and double up or show you on to your weaker foot. That’s what happened. Now, I’m learning more things about the game and adding more strings to my bow.
“My understanding of the game is a lot better now. Just knowing when to time my runs more and be more aware of my position,”