Sunday, March 8, 2009
Motherwell boss: Sheridan can be forward sensation
History might be repeating itself for Mark McGhee as he cultivates the career of a gifted Irish rookie he's adamant has all the raw materials to become a strike sensation.
The Motherwell boss is the perfect choice to enhance loan star Cillian Sheridan's development - 10 years after being mesmerised by another young Irishman destined for the top.
McGhee rates Richard Sadlier the most talented player he has ever worked with.
Having coached the likes of Robbie Keane and Tim Cahill, that's quite a compliment.
Sadlier was an Irish international striker McGhee had at Millwall before his career was tragically cut short by injury.
At youth level he partnered Keane for Ireland and was to be included in Mick McCarthy's squad for the 2002 World Cup - until a hip problem forced him to quit.
Incredibly, Sadlier and Sheridan both played for Belvedere Boys Club in Dublin a decade apart.
Now McGhee is so impressed by on-loan Hoops hitkid Cillian he's compared him to his former protege - and reckons the 20-year-old can enjoy the top-level career denied to his countryman.
Mark said: "A hip injury finished Richard.
But before anyone really knew about that we'd had a bid of £7million for him.
"Potentially, he was the best player I've ever worked with. He was 6ft 5in, quick and had a Thierry Henry-like touch.
"He could finish, was brave, ambitious - he had everything. I don't know if Cillian will be as good as Sadlier might have been but I see so much of him in Richard.
"Sheridan excites me.
With his stature he'll become a traditional No.9. He's big and mobile - too good a player, just to play off someone.
"I see him as a future Celtic No.9. There was no suggestion of Cillian staying here longer than the end of May - Gordon Strachan wants him back.
"I see him emerging into a player the Republic of Ireland will benefit from and he'll have a good career. Getting a run of games here will bring him on more than being a sub at Celtic.
"Gordon has sacrificed Cillian now but balanced that with knowing he'll go back there next season as a serious contender."
Sheridan bagged his first goal for Well last weekend against Inverness, and McGhee is delighted with his early impact.
The Fir Park gaffer revealed the youngster - who turned his back on a career in Gaelic and Australian Rules Football - was his top target when leading scorer Chris Porter left for Derby.
McGhee said: "Porter lacked aggression when he came here but the SPL brought that out of him.
"He got stronger and Cillian also has to become more physical. He has work to do in the gym and could carry another three quarters of a stone.
"But he's only 20. He'll mature in the next couple of years and by 23 you'll see a change - he'll emerge as a real beast. At the moment he's still a bit floppy. "He's an excellent finisher and hits the ball so hard.
"Some players frustrate me by not striking the ball powerfully but Cillian certainly gives it a skelps."
McGhee believes if his side can score 25 goals before the end of the campaign they will climb to fourth place in the SPL and seal Europa League qualification.
That's why he's started an incentive scheme that has provided a bit of fun among his squad.
He said: "I've set them all goal targets and put up a chart. The strikers have a set amount to hit, same with midfielders, the full-backs have to get a couple and it's one between the others!
"I've told them we need 25 goals to finish fourth. If we hit that target we won't be far off. They get a sticker if they score, it's a bit of fun and an incentive that works."