Several Northern Ireland qualified players have opted to commit their international futures to the team south of the border on their island and McClean is one of those that got away from the Belfast-based Irish FA.
His decision to play for Giovanni Trapattoni’s side may prove to be a massive bonus for Ireland at Euro 2012, as this young man has emerged as one of the rising stars of the Premier League after making the move from Derry City to Sunderland last summer.
Oozing with pace and showing a thrilling ability to attack opponents and deliver quality crosses, the Irish media have been clamouring for his inclusion in this Euro 2012 travelling party and now comes the chance for this international novice to confirm he is ready to shine when the pressure is on.
“There is no doubt that James can make an impact at Euro 2012 and Ireland are very lucky to have him,” is the view of his club boss and fellow Irishman Martin O’Neill. “He has been fantastic for me since I came to Sunderland and while it is not my place to pick a team for Giovanni Trapattoni, I have nothing but good things to say about young McClean.”