A police investigation has been opened into threats against Sunderland and Irish international footballer James McClean.

The Derry-born player has been subjected to sectarian abuse and loyalist threats on social networking sites because of his stance on wearing a poppy. McClean was the only member of the Sunderland team who refused to wear a special Remembrance Day shirt with an embroidered poppy during a game at Goodison Park last weekend against Everton.

In a statement at the time, his club said: "It was James' personal choice not to wear a shirt on this occasion."

Sunderland Association Football Club said that as an organisation it "wholeheartedly supports the Remembrance commemorations".

Earlier this year, McClean was subjected to sectarian abuse on his Twitter account amid controversy over his international

career. He had represented Northern Ireland at under 21-level but recently switched to the Republic of Ireland after receiving clearance from the international governing body of football, Fifa.

The abuse coincided with his international call-up for the Euro 2012 finals in May.