JAMES McCLEAN wants to re-evaluate his future with West Brom in the summer, should the ‘Baggies’ fail to beat the dreaded drop to the Championship.
The Ireland winger, who has been at The Hawthorns since 2015, has been a key player in West Brom’s recent revival, galvanised under the stewardship of Darren Moore as they bid to desperately cling onto their Premiership status.
Victory over Man United at Old Trafford and at Newcastle on Sunday last, sandwiched between a battling draw against Liverpool at Anfield, has given the ‘Baggies’ a glimmer of hope but they still need a small miracle to survive with two games remaining.
And while McClean is fully focused on the job at hand, when quizzed on his future the Creggan man refused to commit to the club, insisting he shouldn’t be viewed as a ‘snake’ by the fans if he decides to move on.
McClean has one year remaining on his contract with the Midlands club while West Brom has an option of extending it for a further year.
However, his latest comments, which stopped short of offering himself in the shop window, would indicate his future may well lie away from The Hawthorns. He’s been linked with moves to Burnley and Scottish Premiership champions, Celtic in the past but stressed his future ‘needs to be addressed’ over the summer months.
“It’s something I need to think about and it needs to be addressed in the summer,” he told the ‘Journal’. “I’ve a year left in my contract and the club has an option of a year so, possibly two years.
“Let’s see what happens first and then who knows? In football no one knows what’s around the corner. My main focus on concentrating on finishing the season strong and after that who knows?”
The former Derry City winger has rubbed shoulders with Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Mo Salah in recent weeks, while he’s expected to start Saturday’s must-win clash with Tottenham Hotspur at home and he’s not ready to give up playing Premiership football just yet!
“Everyone wants to play Premier League football so I do think there will obviously be a lot of people looking at their next move or to their future come the summer if the inevitable happens and we do go down,” added McClean.
“The fans just see it as if you do go down and players leave then you’re a snake, or you’ve taken the club for a ride and this and that. But we’ve got families as well and we need to look after them.”
McClean, who has found a new lease of life under new boss, Moore, took a thinly veiled swipe at former boss, Alan Pardew who, he claimed, treated him unfairly, adding that confidence in the West Brom camp was at ‘an all-time low.’
“It was looking bleak a few weeks ago before we changed the manager,” he said. “We couldn’t really see where the next points were coming from.
“So to get eight points in the last four, considering we had United away, Liverpool at home, Newcastle away, it just shows not only the fighting spirit but the quality we have. We might have left it a little too late, but we’ll fight to the end.
“This season we might have gone away from what we are good at. We were being told to play a way we weren’t suited to and results didn’t go our way because of that. Since ‘Mooro’ has come in, he’s not only lifted the players’ confidence which was probably at an all time low. But he’s given us a bit of structure and it’s no coincidence that in the last four games we’ve picked up more wins that we got previously. I always feel I produce my best form when I get a run of games. That wasn’t afforded to me earlier in the season and at times I felt I was being treated unfairly. For one reason or other, if someone came back from injury I was the one he (Pardew) was willing to drop.
“Since ‘Mooro’ has come in, he’s played me four in a row and I’m starting to feel that I’m kicking on in each game. Hopefully, I can add one or two goals to my game in the next two games and get that bit of luck in front of goal or an assist here and there.”
Does he believe the ‘Baggies’ can avoid what appears an inevitable fall from grace?
“It’s obviously going to be a huge ask as we have to win our remaining two games. But over the last few weeks we’ve shown we’re capable of that. We need other results to go our way too but who knows? We’ll fight until the end and until we know it’s official. You never know, crazier things have happened.”