Following a series of outstanding performances for the Black Cats this season, James McClean has been selected for his first senior international appearance – but for a nation he is yet to represent on any level.
McClean has played for Northern Ireland at Under-21 standard but Giovanni Trappatoni has pulled off a minor coup over their neighbouring rivals in luring the youngster to play for the Republic of Ireland.
The 22 year-old has made the 26-man provisional squad to play against the Czech Republic next month and providing that he can impress for his new side, he may find himself with a place in Euro 2012.
Former Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, signed McClean last summer while he still at the helm of the North East outfit for an almost nominal fee of £350,000.
However, it wasn’t until Martin O’Neill took over at the Stadium of Light that McClean got his big break for Sunderland and began his spiralling ascension at the club.
In his ten starts for the Sunderland senior side, McClean has scored four goals but even more impressively has made six assists.
The Irishman will be battling against the likes of Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff to gain a starting berth for the Republic of Ireland but will provide stiff competition himself should he continue in the form he is currently enjoying.