JAMES McClean could yet avoid relegation to League One with Wigan Athletic as Newcastle United are rumoured to be ready to make a determined move for the former Derry City winger.
The Creggan Heights man, who celebrates his 26th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday), joined the ‘Latics’ for a knockdown fee of £1 million from Sunderland in the summer of 2013 after having signed a lucrative deal with the “Black Cats” when under the stewardship of Martin O’Neill.
And while McClean will certainly not appreciate thoughts of playing his football at League One level next season, a move away from Wigan this summer is not beyond the bounds of possibility.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that rumours are rife in the North-East of England suggesting that the “Magpies” are prepared to table a bid of £4 million for the Republic of Ireland international.
Indeed, described as one of Newcastle’s “principal targets” this summer, it’s a very interesting move, McClean following the path of Jack Colback to join Sunderland’s bitter rivals.
Having dropped down into the Championship - taking one step back, to move two steps forward - McClean openly admitted that he was taking a significant drop in salary to join the “Latics,” then under the management of Owen Coyle.
Since then, it’s also understood that the talented left winger had been interested in spending a loan spell in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic but that move failed to materialise during this year’s January Transfer Window.
Having made 85 competitive appearances for Wigan, McClean is considered one of the club’s high profile personnel but his future is not clear.
Now under the management of former Scottish international, Celtic and Wigan centre-half, Gary Caldwell, there’s no doubt that McClean is keen to remain in the Championship at least.
However, with Wigan currently lying five points adrift of safety in the Championship with two games remaining, their future is out of their own hands.
In fact, there’s another link which will make matters all the more interesting for Derry City supporters.
Wigan must overtake fourth from bottom, Rotherham United, if they are to survive the dreaded drop and assisting Rotherham’s hopes of survival is one of McClean’s close friends and former playing colleagues, Daniel Lafferty (pictured right).
The Northern Ireland internationals, who enjoyed a profitable partnership with McClean when operating behind him on the left flank at the Brandywell, continues to ply his trade on loan at Rotherham, that club currently sitting five points clear of Wigan but with three games remaining!