OWEN Coyle described as ‘embarrassing’ the suggestion that James McClean missed yesterday’s Championship victory over Yeovil for anything other than football reasons.
McClean was absent from the matchday squad as Wigan recorded their first away win since the opening day of the campaign, with rumours quickly circulating that he had refused to wear a shirt embroidered with a poppy.
The Derry-born winger received death threats and faced a storm of criticism last year during his Sunderland days after opting to wear an unmarked shirt against Everton in the run-up to Remembrance Day.
Coyle, though, revealed McClean had sustained a dead leg in training, and would have played had he been fit.
“James McClean wasn’t rested - the only reason he didn’t play today was because he was injured, it’s as simple as that,” a visibly annoyed Coyle said.
“He would certainly have been involved if he was fit. The bottom line is that he wasn’t. He has a dead leg.
“I brought James to this club from Sunderland, and I paid a lot of money for him because he’s an outstanding player.
“He’s been wonderful for me, he’s going to have a wonderful career and he is a great lad.
“You all know me, I’m never evasive and always up front.
“But I’m actually embarrassed that I’m getting asked that question in this day and age.”
Coyle also felt his side were good value for their win thanks to Marc-Antoine Fortune’s late goal - their first on the road in 10 matches.
It means, despite a hectic run of fixtures, Latics remain in touch with the frontrunners in the Championship with a game still in hand.
“We’ve been outstanding in the seven games we’ve played this month,” the Wigan boss added.
“Anyone who’s watched our games will know we have a quality side.
“I thought we had a slow start in the game, and Yeovil bossed it for the first 20 minutes.
“But in the 10 minutes before half-time there was only one team taking charge, and that was us.
“We had shots cleared off the line, hit the woodwork, and were really in the ascendancy.
“We then came out and dominated the second half and had numerous chances.”