LEE CATTERMOLE believes James McClean’s explosive emergence has reduced the targets on Sunderland’s January shopping list.
The left-sided midfield role has been a problem position for Sunderland this season, with Seb Larsson, Jack Colback, David Vaughan, Kieran Richardson and Stephane Sessegnon all used there prior to McClean’s inclusion in the starting XI.
Former boss Steve Bruce missed out on long-term left-wing target Charles N’Zogbia during the summer and the Black Cats were on the look-out for a suitable alternative in the transfer window.
But since Martin O’Neill promoted McClean from the reserves, the £350,000 summer signing from Derry City has provided the balance Sunderland’s midfield was lacking.
O’Neill is contemplating January recruits, with defensive reinforcements under consideration following injuries to centre-halves Titus Bramble and Wes Brown.
But skipper Cattermole says if Sunderland are to strengthen before the transfer deadline, a wideman is not necessarily a priority, with McClean excelling in his three starts.
Cattermole told the Echo: “Before he (McClean) came into the team, it might have been something we were looking for in January.
“But I don’t think the manager will be in a rush to go and buy someone now because he’s taken his chance. That’s what young lads need to do.
“He’s high as a kite at the moment and fair play to him. He’s come in from Derry and no-one knows about him.
“He’s taken it all in his stride, he’s not fazed by anything and I’m over the moon for him. He’s a great lad.”
McClean is not the only one to see his stock soar during O’Neill’s transformation of the Black Cats, with Cattermole rejuvenated in his five games under the ex-Aston Villa boss.
Cattermole found himself as a scapegoat under Bruce as Sunderland toiled to just two wins in the Tynesider’s 14 Premier League matches in charge this season.
But the 23-year-old’s name was sung by the 3,000 travelling fans in Sunday’s FA Cup success at Peterborough, even if the ex-Middlesbrough midfielder believes opinions on him have been swayed by results.
“Maybe with players like me, if you’re in a team that’s struggling, then people start asking what’s he bringing to the side?” added Cattermole.
“We missed chance after chance at the start of the season when we could have been winning games.
“If we’d have taken them, people wouldn’t have even mentioned anything.
“Whereas now, we’re winning again and people start saying I’m playing well.
“But I just get my head down, keep going and I know I can offer a lot to the team.”