Giovanni Trapattoni has defended his decision to leave James McClean on the bench as the Republic of Ireland chased a two-goal deficit against Croatia.

The Italian said it would not be fair on the Sunderland winger to thrust him into such a high-pressure situation so soon into his international career.

Trapattoni said: "I have a duty. It's his first game. When, there are senior, experienced players in this situation, maybe there is tension. You can understand how much more tense a young player can be.

"It's important we give them the quiet opportunity. Not when we need their performance, under pressure. It's a heavy weight on his shoulders.

"We have a reason to think about this. This is our team our concrete squad. We have the new. He will come in the future. Not when we change this, or this, or this," added the 73-year-old. 

The Republic of Ireland boss was also forced to defend his decision to bring on Simon Cox for Aiden McGeady on the left wing.

Cox was introduced soon after Ireland went two goals down, with two recognised left wingers on the bench, in McClean and Stephen Hunt, remaining on the bench.

Trapattoni once again stated his belief that Cox carries more of a goal threat than the other natural wide men.

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?

"Cox is one of the strikers but also at his club, can play right or left. He is also a striker in fact in the past, has scored goals.

"Our wingers yesterday were not too often in on goal. I ask you, how many goals has McGeady scored? How many goals has Duff scored? They are our wingers.

"You don't remember? Also me. This is important because at that moment, we needed someone in that position who could also score.

"His attitude - remember also against Italy, remember Cox scored from this position. He's a good player, Cox.

"We need to change the other players because we needed to recover a goal.

"Also McClean is a winger, Hunt is a winger. At that moment, we had to look to score a goal."

Glenn Mason in Poland