McClean plans shirt tribute for friend McBride

James McClean of the Republic of Ireland

James McClean played for Derry City from 2008 to 2011

James McClean is expected to wear the number five shirt for the Republic of Ireland against Wales in memory of Derry City captain Ryan McBride.

West Brom midfielder McClean used to play for Derry and was a friend of McBride, who died on Sunday aged 27.

McClean is to be excused from training with Martin O’Neill’s squad to attend McBride’s funeral in Derry on Thursday.

The Republic, who lead Group D in World Cup qualifying, face Wales at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Friday evening.

McClean is expected to play some part in the match, despite not starting regularly at club level.

Central defender Richard Keogh, who usually wears number five, is understood to have agreed to McClean’s request to wear the shirt.

Republic assistant manager Roy Keane said he was not concerned about McClean being ready for the important qualifier.

“James McClean not having played regularly does not keep me awake at night,” said Keane.

“The assurance I get is what he does for Ireland, whether he is having a good or bad time at club level.

“I have to say, that goes for a lot of our players.”

The Republic of Ireland lead their qualifying group with 10 points from four games, Serbia have eight points with Wales in third on six.

Group D<!–

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