Whether he likes it or not, Patrick McClean will find it difficult to shake off constant comparisons with his famous older brother, James, as he attempts to make his own impact at Derry City this season.
The Creggan man could be forgiven for becoming frustrated at the very mention of his elder sibling who’s currently plying his trade with West Brom and preparing for Euro ‘16 in France with the Republic of Ireland.
And, while he accepts there will always be comparisons with James, Patrick is determined to establish himself in the City team and become recognised for his own performances on the pitch in what could prove to be a pivotal season in his football career.
“I enjoy people talking to me about James because he’s obviously doing well for himself and he’s my brother,” said Patrick.
“I like it but I also want to be known for being me, not James’ brother. I want to be known as Patrick McClean not James McClean’s brother,” he added.
Apart from playing in totally different positions, there are obvious differences in the brothers’ style of play and Patrick admits it is athleticism and professionalism which sets them apart most.
“James will run all day whereas I couldn’t do that,” admitted the Derry City defender. “He’s a natural athlete whereas I just work hard and try my best.”
Patrick, at 19 years of age, enjoyed his breakthrough season last year with the ‘Candy Stripes’, making his first team debut under Peter Hutton. But, from a promising start, he quickly got stuck in a rut and his progression stagnated.
He claims a potential move to Championship club, Bristol City, which fell through, and personal problems at the time ‘turned his head’. He says he cut corners in training and his form spiralled.
However, that’s all behind him now. He believes he’s matured a lot since then and views this year, under Kenny Shiels, as a fresh start and the perfect opportunity to resurrect his Derry City career.
“Last year, I started off great and then it was a bit of a downward spiral. Things happen and you have to brush it away - it’s in the past now and I’m ready to kick-start this season and keep moving on.
“I had the distraction of the possibility of a move to Bristol City and then I had personal issues I was dealing with at the time so it really wasn’t a great season for me. Hopefully, this year I can just move on and do well for the team. There’s a great spirit around the dressing room and I look forward to coming into training every day.”
McClean faces plenty of competition for places this year but he’s willing to bide his time in the hope of getting a prolonged run in the team.
He’s been involved in pre-season games mainly at left-back and, while he prefers playing centre-half, his aim is to help the club this year in whatever way necessary.
“Pre-season has gone well and I’ve had a bit of game-time so I’m hoping, come the start of the season, I, at least, get a run out in the first couple of games and then, hopefully, I can kick on from there.
“I’m happy to get into the team anywhere as long as I’m playing my part and Kenny gives me a fair chance then I just want him to repay him really.
“So far, Kenny’s given me a fair chance. We had a chat before pre-season started and he said that I’ll get my chance this year so, hopefully, I can get in more game-time than I got last year.
“Whoever plays in the team, I’ll be supporting them. There’s places up for grabs and I am aimto get in and do a job.
“I want to cement my place in the team and do well.”