Stoke star has urged for a little bit of caution following the the call up of the Derry born player into Ireland's Euro 2012 squad
McClean's inclusion in Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man squad has been met with acclaim by players and pundits but Whelan has urged for a little caution ahead of this summer's tournament.
"For James, everything has gone right for him at the right time but he is only a young lad and has only just got into the Sunderland team so I don’t think anybody, especially us as players and people of the press, should be putting the pressure on him," said Whelan at a promotion for the latest range of Predator boots.
McClean made his international debut against the Czech Republic earlier this year and has consistently impressed since breaking into the Sunderland team. After being touted as Ireland's latest sensation, his compatriot Whelan says the youngster can do without the hype.
"[McClean] doesn’t need the pressure of being compared to this player and that player because if it doesn’t work for him then the shoe is on the other foot and people will want to forget about him and say ‘oh look, there’s someone else’.
"The big thing for James was getting in the squad, so what does he want to do now? Does he just want to stay in the squad or get in the team? That’s what he has to look at. Get in the team first and do well. We need people who are on form and he is definitely one of them," said Whelan.
The midfielder added that the squad's primary focus right now is on their group opener with Croatia which he dubbed a 'massive one.'
"If you get a result from the first one then no matter what happens against Spain you’ve still got a chance to qualify against Italy then," he said.
Whelan concluded: "So we know and the players know that the thing is to worry about Croatia; that’s got to be the biggest game in our group even though we play Spain and Italy as well. I think the first game is always crucial in any tournament that you play.”