AS DERRY City wait patiently for confirmation of James McClean’s transfer to Sunderland this morning, the winger’s local Derrry & District Youth team will also be particularly anxious to hear the news!
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Indeed, McClean’s schoolboy club, Trojans F.C., will also enjoy part of what would prove to be a major “win, win” situation with the Creggan club benefiting to the tune of just over £50,000 should the deal go through.
The 22-years-old left winger was expected to undergo a medical in Sunderland last night before discussing his personal terms and should agreement be reached - and it’s expected it will be - then Trojans will emerge the first local club to benefit from the progression of one of their former youngsters through the Derry CIty Academy.
Following an agreement, signed between Derry City Football Club and the Derry & District Youth F.A., players progressing from the local youth league through to the Brandywell club will receive a 15 per cent. cut of any transfer fee received by Derry and the Creggan schoolboy club will be the first to benefit from that particular agreement.
And given that the transfer fee is understood to be in the region of £350,000, then Trojans will receive a total of £52,500 as their share of the transfer should it be confirmed.
McClean would become the first Derry City player to be transferred directly to a Premiership club with Conor Sammon having joined Wigan Athletic from Kilmarnock, Derry receiving £40,000 for the player initially and while there had been a sell-on clause in that deal, it’s believed a sum close to £100,000 was claimed by the Administrator following the liquidation of the former club.
My attempts to make contact with members of Trojans Football Club failed at the time of going to Press last night.
Opted For Republic of Ireland
Meanwhile, McClean was also making headlines yesterday following his decision to withdraw from the N. Ireland squad which is due to face Brian Kerr’s Faroe Islands in a Euro Championship 2012 qualifier in Windsor Park tomorrow night.
The player, having learned of the offer from Sunderland opted to telephone N. Ireland boss, Nigel Worthington on Saturday night to inform him that he would not be joining the squad at the team hotel in Belfast on Sunday.
Commenting before leaving on a flight to Newcastle, McClean opted to act professionally and make it clear at an early juncture that he would prefer to represent the Republic of Ireland at senior international level, despite the fact that he has represented N. Ireland at under-21 level.
“I rang Nigel (Worthington) on Saturday night and told him that my dream was to play for the Republic of Ireland. I decided to do that, rather than not turn up at the team hotel.
“I also informed him of my move to Sunderland and while I have never been selected for the Republic at underage level, I believed that progression at Sunderland would help me internationally.
“I know it’s a risk, but I felt it was a risk worth taking rather than possibly tie myself up internationally at this stage of my career,” said James.
“To be fair to him, Nigel gave me the impression that he understood where I was coming from and I think he appreciated my telephone call, informing him of my position,” added the player.
“At the moment, my total focus is on joining Sunderland and I intend to work very hard in an effort to improve and, hopefully, play in the first team squad.
“To be in with a chance of playing for a Premiership club is a dream every player would hold and now that I’ve gone one step towards that, I intend to do everything in my power to progress.
“While I don’t take anything for granted, I’ve always wanted to represent the Republic should such an opportunity materialise and, therefore, I don’t want to be tied up internationally at this stage of my career. I’m prepared to take the risk in that regard.
“I was totally honest with Nigel and he thanked me for that,” concluded McClean.
Out of the Blue!
Meanwhile, the interest from Sunderland came totally “out of the blue” to Brandywell boss, Stephen Kenny, who relegated the winger to the substitutes’ bench prior to last Friday night’s game against Galway at Terryland Park.
“I received the news about two hours before kick-off and while we are all delighted for James, we had to make changes and get the players to digest what was going on and, at the same time, get them focused on the Galway match first and foremost,” said Kenny.
“Unfortunately for me, I wish Sunderland would have come in two weeks ago - before the closure of the Airtricity League Transfer Window - when I would have been in a position to bring in a new left-sided player.
“We may be left a bit short, but for James it’s a tremendous move for a tremendous young player who has every chance of making the grade,” declared Kenny.
“At Derry City he was what I would describe as a gradual improver having got better every season. He’s as fit as a fiddle, he’s pacey and skilful and always listens to instruction and advice.
“In addition he’s a non drinker and while the consumption of alcohol can have a bearing on the fitness levels of young players, James will have no problems in that regard.
“He’s been training daily at the Brandywell, he remains in great shape and he’s in perfect condition to make an impression at Sunderland. He’s now become the perfect example of what a young player can achieve by listening and learning and looking after his body.
“Everyone associated with the club will wish him well and given his determination, he will be doing everything in his power to succeed. He was always passionate and committed Derry and I certainly don’t see that changing, but it will take time for him time to settle in and get used to his new surroundings and team-mates,” said the Derry boss.