JAMES McClean may be making steady progress at Sunderland, but the former Derry City winger thoroughly enjoyed watching the EA Sports Cup Final on television last Saturday night, delighted that his former club had defeated Cork at Turner’s Cross.
Indeed, the 22-year-old Creggan Heights man felt his former “Candy Striped” team-mates fully deserved the victory, despite a few ‘close calls’ during the opening period.
“I watched the game on Setanta and was great to see the boys doing so well, winning another trophy,” he said.
“And now they will have the confidence to go on and make a good season an even better one by winning the Premier Division title, that would be fantastic for the club and the city itself,” he added.
“Turner’s Cross is a tough place to play and Cork looked a very decent side, particularly during the first half,” he noted.
“Barry Molloy told me that we hadn’t won down there in nine years and with a big Cork attendance behind them, it wasn’t going to make it any easier. But I felt Derry played really well, especially in the second half, and I was delighted to see Kevin Deery lift the trophy at the end,” declared James.
He felt it was a 50-50 first half, with just edging it in terms of possession and scoring chances.
“I think Cork may have edged it in the first half before Derry started to get back into it during the final 10 minutes of that period.
“But in the second half I think Derry were in total control and as one of the club’s biggest fans, I really enjoyed watching the lads play in the second half.
“I actually felt very strange at not being there with them, but I was delighted that they won the match. I think they fully deserved it on their second half performance.”
Back on bench
Meanwhile, McClean was expected to be on the bench for Sunderland’s visit to Carrow Road last night against Norwich City - having already been ‘warmed’ the bench for the last two games against Chelsea and Stoke City.
And team boss, Steve Bruce has signed McClean out following his recent showing in both reserve teams matches and in first team training sessions.
“He has done very well in the two or three games we have watched him, so well that we have put him on the bench,” said Bruce.
“He is naturally left-sided, he is six foot one and he can run up and down the left flank all day long.
“It is still early days for James, but he hass done very well and let’s hope that the improvement continues.”
And James believes he is now ready for the elevation into Sunderland’s senior squad.
“I have been on the bench for the last two games and now I am itching to get my debut under my belt. I am desperate to show what I can do and to take the next step, I have had a taste of the atmosphere and now I want more,” he said
“I’m delighted with the progress I’ve made but I intend to keep pushing every week.”