McCann was born in Dublin, County Dublin. Brought over to Lancashire from the Irish club Home Farm, McCann progressed through the youth system at Burnley, and made his senior debut in the 2005–06 season, coming onto the pitch as an early substitute in the 4–0 win against Coventry City on 13 August 2005.
McCann scored his first senior goal on 27 September 2005, in the 3–0 win against Ipswich Town.
He started the 2006–07 season in the first-team squad, but reverted to the substitutes' bench after a few games as he sought to confirm his potential at Championship level. However, injuries saw him pressed into action as an emergency left-back and he took these opportunities – re-establishing himself in the first-team line-up. In 2008–09, McCann was linked with a possible move to a Premier League club. McCann began his debut Barclays Premier League season well, but an unfortunate knee injury and subsequent surgery to his cruciate following the game against Sunderland at Turf Moor in September sidelined the midfielder until December 2009 at the earliest. In his second match back from injury, he picked up a second injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season.
Following Burnley's relegation from the Premier League McCann returned to the team and played in Burnley's first three pre-season friendlies against Bury, Oldham Athletic and the first game of Burnley's tour of Singapore in which McCann was taken off with a knee injury. McCann played no further part in Burnley's pre-season and in the week before the Clarets season opener against Nottingham Forest, news broke that the midfielder was a doubt for this game and would be sent to see a specialist. McCann returned to Championship action while being named captain of Burnley FC by manager Eddie Howe.
On 26 June 2013, McCann agreed to join Wigan Athletic following the expiry of his contract with Burnley at the end of the month. He was reunited with former Burnley manager Owen Coyle.
On 6 July 2016, it was announced that McCann would join Atlanta United FC for their inaugural season in 2017. He is to go out on loan between the time of his signing and the beginning of the 2017 MLS season. He currently has the number 16.
On 2 August 2016, McCann joined Coventry City on loan until the start of the 2017 Major League Soccer campaign.
McCann has represented the Republic of Ireland at under-17, under-18 and under-19 level. He was first called up to the Republic of Ireland U21s for the matches against Montenegro and Bulgaria on 16 and 20 November 2007 for the 2009 European U21 Championship qualifiers. On the wake of his call-up Ireland U21 manager, Don Givens, stated that "Chris has been involved with Ireland at other age levels but this is his first call-up to the Under-21 panel. He is a good player and deserves a chance at this level". He was selected in the squad for the 1–0 defeat to Montenegro in Podgorica. However, he had to withdraw due to an injury. This was unexpected news as he has played the week before against Preston North End after he had missed three games with a groin injury.
McCann was again named on the bench for the second match against Bulgaria but opted out of the squad two hours prior to kick-off claiming it was a waste of his time being there. Don Givens criticised McCann saying, "I can never understand anybody that doesn't want to pull on the green shirt". He also added that this event could hinder McCann's future international career, "Will I pick him again? Would you?". Ireland went on to win the match in Athlone regardless of McCann's actions through a 90th-minute winner from the Watford midfielder John-Joe O'Toole. However, Givens later apologised for his criticism, "I take it back, its nice to see Chris developing into a player of true class“. Despite smoothing things over with Givens he was never called up to the under-21s again. Since that event McCann has stated his desire to play for the full national side and hoped that his form for his club side could push him into Giovanni Trappatoni's squad.
McCann earned his U.S. green card in February 2017. This status also qualifies him as a domestic player for MLS roster purposes.As of match played 31 December 2016
BurnleyFootball League Championship play-offs: 2008–09
Wigan AthleticLeague One: 2015–16