Saturday, March 24, 2012

O'Neill praise for outstanding McClean

Ireland international James McClean capped off a great few days with a man of the match display as Sunderland defeated QPR at the Stadium Of Light.

fresh from signing a new Black Cats contract yesterday, the Derryman set up the first goal, added one of his own before playing a crucial role in the third to secure a 3-1 victory over QPR.

And today's impressive display did not go unnoticed by manager Martin O'Neill who showered praise on the Irish winger.

"I thought he was outstanding today, absolutely outstanding. And to be perfectly honest he's been outstanding since he came into the limelight," O'Neill told Sky Sports.

"I think (it was a) great performance by him today and he's earned every penny of it and he's been a great boost to the football club here in his time.

"He's got a great attitude to it. Not just a great attitude, he's got a great ability as well as he's shown this afternoon, I thought he was outstanding and I'm obviously delighted for him."

The 22-year-old penned an improved deal until the end of the 2014-15 season yesterday having signed from Derry City for just £350,000 last summer.

McClean's continued progress has also given Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni more food for thought ahead of his squad selection for Euro 2012.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Whelan proud of Stoke international appearance record

Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan has spoken of his pride at becoming Stoke City's most-capped international player.

Dublin born Whelan won his 37th cap against the Czech Republic on 29 February and that surpassed the 36 appearances made by England goalkeeper Gordon Banks during his five-year spell with the Potters.

"To beat Gordon Banks, who's not just a Stoke legend but also an England legend, it will be great to look back on," Whelan told BBC Radio Stoke.

Banks won a total of 73 caps for England, with the other 37 coming before his move from Leicester City to Stoke in 1967.

28 year old Whelan made his international debut for Ireland in June 2008, five months after joining the Potters from Sheffield Wednesday. The Irish central midfielder started his career with Manchester City after joining from Irish feeder club Cherry Orchard in 2001.

Whelan has been a mainstay in Giovanni Trapattoni's central midfield and is a likely starter for 'The Boys In Green' when they travel to Euro 2012 in June.

Three days after playing in a 1-1 draw for the Irish against the Czechs, Whelan helped Stoke to a 1-0 win against Norwich , their second consecutive Premier League victory and a result that lifted Tony Pulis's side back into the top half of the Premiership table.

"Coming off four straight defeats, we knew it was going to be really tough but they were two games that we knew we could win," said Whelan.

"It's given us massive confidence going into the next game [at Chelsea on Saturday].
"Clean sheets are important, every team needs them, and we've got two of them in the last two games so we need to keep that up."

"We go into every game hoping to get a win and Chelsea is no different. We know it will be tough with the players that they've got but they're not unbeatable. We can go there with confidence, like what we've shown in the last two games."