Jonjo Shelvey has spoken about the managerial limbo at Newcastle United.
The relegation-threatened club's stand-in reaction has been interviewed by Sky Sports ahead of Monday night's game at Leicester City.
Head coach McClaren is expected to be relieved of his duties this week.
Newcastle are in advanced discussions with Rafa Benitez, who is close to being appointed as the club's new manager, possibly in time to take charge of the team at the King Power Stadium.
Shelvey is the first player to talk since last weekend's 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth.
"It's a sticky situation that we're in, and he's at the forefront of it, which he doesn't deserve," said Shelvey.
"It is what is is. We've got to play for him while he's still in charge and hopefully he stays in charge."
Asked how "difficult" it was for the players to prepare for the Leicester game given the uncertainty, Shelvey added: "At the end of the day you're getting paid loads of money to do your job.
"That is your job - to keep yourself away from the media and the rumours that go around.
"You can't listen to that. You can never believe something until it's happened.
"We've been very professional this week. We've trained really well."