James McClean has taken a swipe at former Republic of Ireland internationals Gary Breen and Stephen Hunt in a passionate defence of new manager Stephen Kenny.

McClean played under Kenny when he was at Derry City before he moved to Sunderland in 2011.

He heaped praise on the Dubliner, who has now officially taken the reins from Mick McCarthy and will lead Ireland into the Euro 2020 play-off showdown against Slovakia.

Breen has warned that Kenny has a lot to prove in his new role while Hunt suggested some of the senior players in the dressing room may not be overly familiar with the incoming manager.

Both men have also had words of praise for the former Dundalk boss and his new-look back-room team, which includes Keith Andrews and Damien Duff, but McClean did not hold back in a robust defence of Kenny.

"I have seen a few comments from a few players, for example Gary Breen. I think Gary has spent too much time in England," he told The Derry Journal.

"I’m pretty sure Gary doesn’t know much about the League of Ireland. The fact he said Stephen (Kenny) has failed everywhere other than Dundalk proves that point.

"Gary doesn’t know the League of Ireland. If he did, he would know Stephen (Kenny) fully deserves this job and he hasn’t been a failure anywhere else.

"I have also seen people like Stephen Hunt saying senior players are going to be worried and this and that, but Stephen Hunt's international career didn’t really pull up many trees.

"Stephen is probably best known for his clash with Petr Cech, so for him to give his opinion on Stephen is a joke.

"I don't think Stephen is going to be too worried about what Stephen Hunt has had to say because, like I said, he hasn’t pulled up a lot of trees throughout his international career.

"I'm sure it will be water off a duck’s back as far as Stephen Kenny is concerned."

Listen to the RTÉ Soccer podcast onApple PodcastsSoundCloudSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.