Former Ireland midfielder Kevin Kilbane and several soccer betting observers have urged Giovanni Trapattoni to select winger James McClean for the Republic’s clash with Spain on Thursday.
Pressure is building on the veteran Italian boss to include the in-form Sunderland star, who burst onto the scene last season and injected some much needed pace into the sluggish Black Cats’ line-up.
This led to him being called-up to the national side and he has looked sharp in his limited appearances so-far, leading many to tip him to start in his country’s first game at Euro 2012 against Croatia.
However, Trapattoni, who is famously loyal to his players, decided to stick with the team that played during the majority of the Republic’s qualifying campaign, meaning McClean could only look on as his side were comfortably beaten 3-1.
The ‘Boys in Green’ were then defeated by World and European champions Spain in Gdansk which knocked out of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, although they can salvage some pride when they return to live football action against Italy this week.
And a number of pundits have called on Trapattoni to take a chance on McClean and try and use his pace to unsettle the Italian defence.
Kilbane, who represented his country at the 2002 World Cup, is fully behind the campaign for the exciting winger’s inclusion, but believes the Italian manager’s defensive instincts will see him continue with the team that started the opening match.
“There’s been big talk over the last few weeks about James McClean,” said Kilbane.
“His inclusion in the squad has been a big thing for the Irish supporters, so I think every Irishman and woman would have thought he would be the natural man to come in on that left wing.
“In typical Giovanni Trapattoni fashion, though, he will pick the team as he sees fit,” he added.