JAMES McCLEAN has vowed not to allow Steve Bruce’s sacking from Sunderland this week to derail his hopes of making an immediate breakthrough into the ‘Black Cats’ first team.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The former Derry City winger became Bruce’s 10th summer signing last August when signing on a three year deal, and while the news of the Geordie’s abrupt departure on Wednesday evening came as a blow to the former ‘Candy Stripe’, he insists it won’t affect his career on Wearside.
In the belief that he is edging ever closer to his dream debut for the ‘Mackems’, following his outstanding performance in last Tuesday night’s emphatic 7-0 Reserve victory over Scunthorpe, McClean is looking forward to the challenge of impressing whoever takes over the reigns at the Stadium of Light.
Co. Derry man, Martin O’Neill is the early favourite to take over at the helm while former Man City boss, Mark Hughes is also a likely candidate, but McClean refuses to get involved with the politics involved, instead opting to concentrate on improving his chances of making the step-up to first team football.
“I got on well with Steve Bruce and it was Steve who brought me to the club,” said McClean last night. “He’s been great with me since I’ve got here. Personally I think it was a bit harsh considering it’s early in the season but that’s football I suppose.
“Steve was a great manager so I’m obviously disappointed to see him go, but I have to concentrate on doing my best and trying to impress whoever takes over.
“It’s not my decision to appoint a manager, so you just have to get on with it and try and make a good impression. Obviously Mark Hughes and Martin O’Neill have been mentioned and they are two top managers.
“But I’ve got the same mind-frame I’ve had from the start,” he added. “It won’t affect the way I go about my business, I’ll continue to play my own game, work hard and no matter who’s in charge I’ll try hard to impress them. I’ve had a great start to my career at Sunderland so regardless as to who’s in charge or who takes over from Steve Bruce, it’s up to me to keep improving personally and doing everything the right way.”
Hit Ground Running
And the Creggan Heights man has certainly hit the ground running since his arrival in the North East of England, having already made a string of Premiership appearances on the Sunderland bench - including at Old Trafford last month, an occasion he rates as the highlight of his sprightly Sunderland career so far.
However, the ambitious winger - who made a quickfire return to the city yesterday - believes he is ready for his Premiership baptism and hasn’t ruled out making an appearance in Sunday’s crunch, bottom of the table clash with Wolves at Molineux.
“I’ve been on the bench for the first team and have been sent out to warm up a few times with the view of getting on but obviously it never materialised. Hopefully my chance will come soon, possibly even on Sunday against Wolves.
“It’s a massive game. Our form hasn’t been great and we’ll be looking to pick up as soon as possible. Hopefully we can do that starting on Sunday and hopefully I can play a part in helping the club.
“No matter what kind of a game it is or who it’s against I just want to play. Hopefully that comes on Sunday but if it doesn’t I’ll keep trying my best.
“The next step now is to progress to the first team line-up and make myself a regular. We have some of the best facilities in the country at Sunderland and I’m well looked after. People can’t do enough for me so I’ve been lucky to go straight from one great club to another,” he concluded.