James McClean is determined not to be a one-hit wonder after making his senior international debut for the Republic of Ireland.
The Sunderland winger got his chance as a late substitute in Wednesday’s 1-1 friendly draw with Czech Republic in Dublin after manager Giovanni Trapattoni answered the clamour for the 22-year-old’s inclusion.
McClean’s bow may have been only a brief cameo, but the warmth with which he was welcomed onto the pitch when he replaced Aiden McGeady with 11 minutes remaining led his manager to joke:“I thought, ‘Who is this? Messi, Maradona, Pele?’.”
Trapattoni’s loyalty to the squad he has assembled and schooled meticulously since his arrival in Ireland in May 2008 means the former Derry City midfielder’s chances of making the party which travels to the Euro 2012 finals may be slim, but he is determined to add to his first cap.
McClean said: “You want to try to get as many caps as possible for your country, and I am just over the moon to get my first one.
“But at the same time, I want to push on and in the future, maybe get into more squads.”
McClean made a £350,000 move to Premier League Sunderland, last August and his emergence under new manager Martin O’Neill since December has been spectacular.
McClean said: “It’s been a great few months for me – and hopefully now the next few months can be even better.”
His focus has switched back to his club as they prepare for Sunday’s derby with Newcastle.