James McClean has criticized players who pull out of international games through injury but “then always seem to be fit for their club side on the Saturday”.
The Irish international is one of only two Premier League players in New Jersey with Martin O’Neill’s squad to take on Mexico tomorrow.
McClean’s own commitment has never been in doubt, and the 28 year old has missed just one international in the last three years. He is also Ireland’s top scorer in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with three goals in five games to date.
“It gets on my nerves when players come in and they’re not fit for games but they are for the club games at the weekend. That gets to me,” the West Brom winger said.
“I want to play for my country and I want to get as many caps as possible, if I am fit and feeling good then I want to play, no matter what time it is, I want to play. Without singling too many players out, there have been players in the past who pulled out of games with injuries but always seem to be fit for their club side on the Saturday.”
“It annoys me very much,” he continued.
“Either you are proud to represent your country, that should be a great honour, go and play, be delighted to pull on the jersey. If you don’t want to be here, don’t be there. Don’t come in and then leave because you are taking a chance from someone else to come in in the first place, that definitely annoys me.”
“That’s never been me, if I am feeling fine I want to play, I am available for selection and I want as many caps as possible.”
McClean is likely to captain an inexperienced Ireland side on Thursday, and it will be his first time to captain his country, and the game at the MetLife Stadium will also see the Derry native earn his 50th international cap.
Martin O’Neill has hinted that McClean may be utilized as a left wing back, and the fiery midfielder is open to the role.
“I haven’t played there that often but if it adds more bows to my string and gives me that new experience of playing somewhere else, I’m all for it.”