After all, it could be argued the young winger does owe the IFA something. Being born and bred in Northern Ireland’s second city, Londonderry, he also played for Trojans in the Derry & District League, which is under the IFA’s umbrella.
He also represented Northern Ireland’s under-19s in the Milk Cup tournament that is held annually in Coleraine. McClean has also been capped for Northern Ireland’s Under-21s.
The only contribution made by the FAI to his development is the fact his old club Derry City, despite being based in the North, played in the league south of the border.
Maybe he should have made his intentions clear before taking those under-19 and 21 caps but if his new choice want nothing to do with him, then it’s not too late to tear up the Fifa paperwork and attempt to emulate the deeds of his Sunderland manager in the green of Northern Ireland.
He’d certainly give either national side some punch, as with Sunderland on the back foot for most of Saturday’s game, McClean was the one outlet that had Arsenal in a state of unease after they had nullified the threats of Fraizer Campbell and Stéphane Sessègnon.
It was reminiscent of the recent visit of Swansea with Arsenal seeing much of the ball and Sunderland having to rely on the back four to hold their nerve and keep their patience in order to stop the visitors from breaching their goal. It again looked as if Sunderland would be getting away with it after McClean had cashed in on Mertesacker’s rotten luck.
Then Arsenal’s bench came into play. Aaron Ramsey, who like McClean has had his own international issues to deal with given the recent TeamGB Olympic football team furore, came on for Mertesacker and within three minutes wiped the celebratory grins off many a Sunderland fan’s face when his low shot from the edge of the box hit the post, rolled along the line before nestling into the net.
Then Monsieur Wenger went back to the bench and played a loaded hand which came up full of aces when the cards were shown in the final minute.
Late substitute, Andrei Arshavin, whipped in a cross from the left which left Sunderland’s centre-halves flat-footed as the Russian’s fellow bench-warmer Henry volleyed in.
Like many, McClean could only watch crestfallen as to what had just happened. His time will come again – both for Sunderland and whatever shade of green he will eventually wear on the international stage.