James McClean: Republic of Ireland players are 'hurt' by disappointing results

Stoke City winger James McClean has scored 11 goals for the Republic of Ireland
Stoke City winger James McClean has scored 11 goals for the Republic of Ireland

James McClean says no-one is more upset about the Republic of Ireland's poor run of results than the players.

The pressure on manager Stephen Kenny intensified after Saturday's shocking 1-0 defeat by Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier in Dublin.

McClean scored in Tuesday's 1-1 drawn friendly against Qatar but accepts results have not been good enough.

"I can tell you wholeheartedly it hurts us more than it hurts anyone because we're the ones responsible," he said.

"Saturday night, it was a real low, there's no getting away from that.

"It hurt, it hurt a lot, and we have to pick ourselves up.

"We have to live with that. Ultimately, we're the ones on the pitch and it just wasn't ood enough from us as players.

"But since then, the attitude has been spot on.

"As a group, we got ourselves together and we said, 'Look, we have to live with that and we are the ones going forward that need to change that'."

Kenny has not won any of his 11 games in charge and began the World Cup campaign with a 3-2 away defeat by Serbia last week.

The Luxembourg result heaped further scrutiny on the manager and his team but McClean feels the performance against Qatar was much improved.

"I thought (on Tuesday night) in large parts, we were very good.

"I think you can see what we're trying to do. It was a very poor goal from us to concede, and they're the things we need to cut out to be an even better team.

"But (against Qatar), there were positive signs.

Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Robbie Brady celebrate McClean's goal in the 1-1 draw against Qatar
Jeff Hendrick, James McClean and Robbie Brady celebrate McClean's goal in the 1-1 draw against Qatar

"I think against Serbia, there were positive signs as well, so we just need that first (win).

"When we get that first one, hopefully that will kick-start it and the rest of the wins will follow."

Kenny fielded a much-changed team against Qatar in Hungary with experienced campaigners McClean, Shane Duffy and Robbie Brady, none of whom had started either of the qualifiers, among the beneficiaries.

McClean, winning his 80th cap, got his reward within four minutes with a first international goal since his winner in Wales in October 2017.

However it was enough only to claim a draw after Mohamed Muntari took advantage of passive defending to level two minutes into the second half.

McClean's goal was just their fourth in Kenny's 11 games to date - and the Stoke City player is hopeful that he will not have to wait as long to add to his tally of 11.

"It's been a bit of a while coming, but I think I've proven over the years that I can score goals for Ireland.

"The more players chipping in with goals, the better it is for the team, so hopefully that's the first of a nice little spell."

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