James McClean and Stephanie Roche were in Dublin to launch Red Bull’s unique five-a-side football tournament, Neymar Jr’s Five which returns to Ireland for its third consecutive year. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

REPUBLIC of Ireland star James McClean has tipped his West Bromwich Albion teammate Dara O’Shea to become a ‘really good defender’ in the coming years.

The Templeogue native has been on the books at the Hawthorns for the past two years, having made the switch from the renowned schoolboy nursery St Kevin’s Boys in 2016. Ireland Under-19 international O’Shea made headlines two years ago for a 30-yard piledriver he scored for the Baggies in an under-18 game against Tottenham Hotspur.

And O’Shea, who celebrated his 19th birthday this week, made his bow for the senior team during their pre-season tour to Austria last August, having impressed manager Tony Pulis in the under-23s. Pulis has since been replaced by Alan Pardew, but Derryman McClean has seen enough of the talented defender in games and in training to offer him a few words of encouragement.

“I remember the very first game of pre-season, the manager made 11 changes at half time and brought Dara on,” said McClean at the launch of Red Bull’s Neymar Jr Fives tournament in Dublin recently.

“He was a bit nervous on the ball, trying to force things a little, and I remember having a word with him at the airport, saying ‘if you believe in yourself and relax, you can be a really good defender.

“Just believe in yourself, relax more on the ball. Just try to keep it as simple as possible. Obviously being Irish you’re going to have a bit more interest.

“I’ll try to give him as much advice as possible but, as the old saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink it. I’ll try to give him as much advice as possible and hopefully he takes it on board.”

O’Shea is currently on loan with non-league Hereford United, having seen his initial four-month loan extended to the end of the season after a series of impressive performances.

The Dubliner also captained his country last month when Tom Mohan’s under-19s beat Romania in back-to-back friendlies in La Manga in Spain.

With the Baggies languishing at the bottom of the English Premier League and favourites for relegation, 2018 could yield more opportunities for O’Shea to impress on his return to the midlands.

McClean continued: “I like Dara a lot. He’s a no-nonsense defender. I think if Dara just believed in himself a bit more, he’ll have a real chance of playing at a decent level. He just needs to believe in himself a bit more and get a bit more confidence. He’s a very good lad as well. Having trained with him most days, I believe Dara’s got a real chance.”

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