“We’re very disappointed how he was handled whilst he was away on international duty.”
Michael O’Neill has confirmed that James McClean has been ruled out for the season and the Stoke City manager has put the blame at Ireland’s door for the winger’s latest injury.
McClean declared himself fit to Ireland manager Stephen Kenny ahead of the two World Cup qualifiers away to Serbia and at home to Luxembourg as well as the international friendly against Qatar, even though his club said otherwise.
Despite carrying a foot injury, McClean featured off the bench in the two qualifiers before playing over 80 minutes in the Qatar friendly, scoring Ireland’s only goal in that game which ended 1-1.
However, he has been hit with another setback and the former Northern Ireland manager gave an update on McClean’s latest injury.
“James’ heel injury is still giving him a problem,” O’Neill told reporters ahead of Stoke’s trip to St. Andrew’s to take on Birmingham.
“He hasn’t been able to train since his brief cameo appearance for us on Monday and I’m disappointed with that.
“Clearly, we didn’t want him to go away on international duty and firmly believe that has hindered his recovery and we’re basically now back to square one in terms of where James is at with that injury.”
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) April 9, 2021
McClean featured off the bench during Stoke City’s 2-1 defeat against Millwall on Easter Monday but he subsequently suffered a reoccurrence of his old injury.
O’Neill felt his hands were tied and said he was “disappointed” with how Ireland handled the injury during the international window.
“It’s something that unfortunately we weren’t able to stop and we’re very disappointed how he was handled whilst he was away on international duty,” he added.
“I don’t envisage that James will be available to play again for us this season.”
Stoke City currently lie 11th in the Championship table, 11 points outside the playoff places with just six games remaining.
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