West Brom boss Tony Pulis plots revenge after James McClean's goal against Wales
James McClean's famous goal against Wales for the Republic of Ireland earlier this week could have serious repercussions for the winger.
Ireland’s hero from Monday night’s showdown at the Cardiff Stadium has been rubbing Tony Pulis’s nose in the crucial 1-0 victory since his return to the Baggies training ground.
Pulis hails from Pillgwenlly in South Wales, and admits he couldn’t look the excitable winger in the eye when the pair reunited after the match because he was grinning from ear to ear.
And the Baggies boss joked that he’d get his revenge by leaving him out of his squad for Monday night’s trip to Leicester City.
“He won’t be playing for me after what he’s done for Wales!” said Pulis. “I just ignored him walking down the corridor. He said ‘morning’ with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen in my life.
“There’s a bit of banter going around the place and the manager’s been taking a bit of stick as you can imagine.”
All jokes aside, Pulis was delighted for McClean and praised the impact he’s had on Martin O’Neill’s team.
The Ireland boss hailed McClean as his ‘talisman’ for the World Cup qualifiers and after 10 goals in his last 33 appearances for his country, it’s understandably why.
The 28-year-old hasn’t hit those heights with Albion since his £1.5million move from Wigan Athletic two years ago, but Pulis says that is not through wont of trying.
“James has most probably done better for Ireland than he has for us but that sometimes happens,” said Pulis.
“We didn’t pay much for him and I don’t think anyone would say James has been anything but brilliant. James gives his best.
“Watch him in training, he gives his best. Sometimes he plays well, sometimes he doesn’t play well, that’s the same as anybody.
"James is a smashing lad, everyone has respect for him. He’s 100 per cent week in, week out.”
McClean, much like Pulis, has divided opinion throughout his career. The Derry-born winger is booed at every away stadium for his refusal to wear the poppy, despite the understandable reason behind his stance.
Although it is a symbol that means a lot to many British people, it came to represent something different to the community of Derry after the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972.
The majority of the Baggies faithful have welcomed the likeable wideman into their hearts, even if his hot-heated nature on the pitch can infuriate at times.
A regular donator to good causes, family man McClean stumps up cash and time for people less fortunate than him.
There was a touching moment after the victory over Wales when he found wife and mother of his three children Erin in the crowds and gave her a huge embrace.
And Pulis says his player has an unfair reputation among those who boo him.
“People don’t know James McClean,” he said. “People don’t know Tony Pulis. It’s just perception most of the time.
“I can only speak as I find him. The players in the dressing room all like him and I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his family.”
The next step for McClean is to replicate his international form in domestic competition.
And Pulis hopes the Republic of Ireland make it through their play-off in November because the lure of the World Cup will spur him on to a successful season.
“He’s done brilliant,” said Pulis. “It was a great goal and great technique on his right foot.
“Obviously it was a goal that killed off our hopes and aspirations. But it gives Martin and the Republic another great chance to get to the finals.
“Fingers crossed they get through the play-off game. It would be fantastic if the Republic are there.”