West Bromwich news: James McClean thriving on opposing fans' taunts after poppy controversy

The Republic of Ireland winger found himself in the firing line once again at the weekend

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The Independent Football

James McClean has warned the boo-boys their taunts will only make him stronger as he attempts to establish himself as a regular for both club and country.

The 27-year-old Republic of Ireland winger found himself in the firing line once again at the weekend when he returned to former club Sunderland with current employers West Brom and was booed at every touch in his 100th career Premier League appearance.

Derry-born McClean was engulfed by controversy on Wearside back in 2012 when he chose not to wear a commemorative poppy shirt, and although he explained his decision not to join his team-mates in the annual tribute to fallen British servicemen and women during his time at Wigan two years later, he is still dogged by it.

However the player, who has taken his stance in respect for the victims of Bloody Sunday, has learned to feed off the abuse which comes his way.

He said: "I'm a lot more mature as a person and as a player than I was during my time at Sunderland. It was all new to me there.

"I've got to be honest, I get booed everywhere I go now, but I try to turn that in the right way now, I try to use it as motivation.

"They can boo, they can chant, they can scream this and that, but at the end of the day, they can't affect what I do on the pitch. It's noise from the stands.

"At the end of the day, if they're booing me, it gives you that 'I want to prove you wrong' automatically. That's me as a person. You can sulk, or you say, 'I'm going to show you'.

"It's like someone telling you you can't do something, you want to be determined to show them that you can."

McClean will hope that determination can help him to retain a place in Martin O'Neill's Ireland team with their World Cup qualifying campaign now under way.

James McClean gets in the way of fan's video

He started last month's 2-2 draw with Serbia in Belgrade and is now intent on making himself indispensable, with Georgia due at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday evening ahead of Sunday's trip to Moldova.

The former Derry City winger said: "I want to become a regular not just at club level, but international level as well.

"I'm raring to go and hopefully this is the campaign where I finally nail down a place as a player in the first XI."

PA.

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