CREGGAN teenager, Patrick McClean is hoping to take advantage of Derry City’s enforced defensive reshuffle and stake his claim for a place at the heart of the defence against Bray Wanderers in tonight’s relegation ‘six pointer’ at Brandywell.
The younger brother of Republic of Ireland winger, James McClean, 18 year-old Patrick made his long awaited first team debut for his hometown club against Shamrock Rovers in Paul Hegarty’s first game in charge last month.
And having thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of League of Ireland action, he’s hoping to get the nod from Hegarty to take one of the positions freed up by the suspensions of Ryan McBride (left) and Aaron Barry.
He will of course face stiff opposition for a central defensive spot from Rob Cornwall and Seamus Sharkey who have impressed Hegarty in recent weeks with Ben McLaughlin and Dean Jarvis expected to occupy the fullback roles.
However, should he receive his full Derry City debut against the Co. Wicklow men, he is hoping to do enough to keep hold of the jersey or at least give Hegarty some food for thought.
“I’m ready for it should I get picked to play,” insisted McClean. “But if I don’t I just have to support whoever gets in ahead of me and hopefully we get three points.
If I do get picked I’ll give it my all and hopefully I can keep my place then. It would be nice to be involved but most importantly it’s about getting three points.Patrick McClean
“If I do get picked I’ll give it my all and hopefully I can keep my place then. It would be nice to be involved but most importantly it’s about getting three points. It’s a huge game with Bray ahead of us in the table and a win would take us above them so it would be nice to get the win,” he continued.
Paul Hegarty’s appointment as caretaker boss has seemingly given McClean a new lease of life and he’s delighted the Co. Donegal man has shown faith in his ability by throwing him on for the injured McBride for the final nine minutes of City’s last home game.
“I came on against Rovers and we beat them 1-0 which was amazing. I’m obviously looking to kick on now and get more appearances for the club.
“That’s football, you either get your chance or you don’t. Luckily Paul’s come in and has put his faith in me and given me a chance.
“It’s nice to know he trusts me and he can count on me to come in and do a job.”
McClean claimed to be on the verge of completing a move to Bristol City during the summer before the Championship outfit suddenly cooled their interest.
And although he still has high hopes of making the grade across Channel, he’s anxious to put that transfer saga behind him and concentrate on his blossoming Derry City career.
“Where I’m at now is where I’ve got to concentrate on,” he said. “The Bristol City move was unfortunate but I’m a Derry City player and I have to kick on.
“My brother James wanted me to go but at the same time he knew it would be good for me to progress as a player here. And it’s the perfect place for me to show what I can do.”
Derry boss, Hegarty claims the absence of McBride and Barry - who have helped keep clean sheets from the last two league games - provides an opportunity for those on the fringes.
“That’s why you have a squad and the players who will come in, I’ve 100 per cent confidence they will do a job for us on the night,” said the Derry boss.
“They have been chomping at the bit waiting for an opportunity and this is it! Patrick McClean, Seamus Sharkey, Rob Cornwall are our three other centre backs and they’re not bad replacements to have.
“Patrick’s debut was encouraging but he has a long way to go. He’s a very good footballer and tidy on the ball. And so is Seamus Sharkey can play and can improve his aggression a bit. He’s a very good player and has a good bit of pace about him so we do have options there.
“It’s up to these boys to step up to the plate. Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry have been involved in the last two matches and we kept clean sheets so there’s pressure now on the defence to keep another clean sheet on Friday night.”