Giovanni Trapattoni has defended his decision to leave rising star James McClean sitting on the bench as the Republic of Ireland slipped to defeat against Croatia.

The Italian opted to replace left-winger Aiden McGeady eight minutes into the second half of their 3-1 reverse in Poznan. But rather than turning to specialist McClean, who won rave reviews for his performances with Sunderland during the second half of last season, he asked striker Simon Cox to line up in the Spartak Moscow man's place.

Trapattoni had anticipated the question and was ready for it when it arrived at the Republic's Gdynia training base on Monday, and he said: "I was waiting for this question. Remember when you asked me why five strikers? I said Cox is also a winger and he can also play in a three as an attacking striker. Remember when you said this?"

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