Wednesday, December 14, 2011
McClean upbeat about future
Former Derry City winger James McClean made an impressive debut last weekend after new Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill gave the 22 year old his chance to shine at the stadium of light, and the Irish international hopeful duly obliged by delighting the Wearside faithful with a stunning impact performance after entering as a second-half substitute.
McClean, who recently stated that it was his dream to represent Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland side, will have done his future international prospects no harm with his eye-catching Sunderland debut.
Signed by previous manager Steve Bruce in a £350,000 summer buy from Derry City, first-team opportunities have been hard to come by.
However, when given one by O’Neill, McClean grasped it with both hands and played a key role in the Black Cats’ dramatic comeback.
He said: “When I arrived, I just wanted to get into the team as soon as possible.
“I did not honestly expect it to be as quick as it has been.
“I came here with the mindset of working hard every day in training, trying to improve as a player and eventually getting into the team.
“Now I am just delighted to get my debut out of the way, but I am not taking anything for granted, I know it is only one game.
“I will continue with what I have been doing in training and try to improve.”
Of his debut, McClean revealed any pre-match nerves he might have had were eased by a quiet word from O’Neill prior to coming on the pitch.
He added: “It was not a bad debut at all with the manager’s first game in charge and to get the win as well. It was an all-round good day.
“I just came on and played my own game and it was a great moment. The manager just told me to go on, play my normal game and not be nervous.
“That gave me the confidence to just go on and do what I have been doing in the reserves.”
Last weekend’s win over Blackburn ended a winless run of five games for Sunderland and McClean has credited new gaffer O’Neill for providing the spark to inspire the team to victory.
He continued: “The new manager has come in and been a breath of fresh air.
“He has given the lads a lot of confidence by being upbeat. It has rubbed off on the players.
“Training has been different as every manager has their own style, but there have not been big changes.
“You could see what it meant to the fans to have Martin O’Neill.
“For him to gain a win in his first game in charge made it the perfect day.
“His managerial record speaks for itself. When you are a player like myself coming through the ranks, it gives you a confidence boost when there is someone like him in charge