JAMES McClean joined FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic yesterday, with Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio wishing the left-winger well at his new club.
It was the Italian who ultimately decided the Irishman’s fate, with McClean being instructed at the end of last season to look for a move.
But Di Canio has no hard feelings towards the 24-year-old, who burst on the scene in former manager Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge of the club in December, 2011, and went on to play 59 Premier League games for the Black Cats.
Di Canio told the Echo: “I hope it works out well for James.
“It is a good move and a good opportunity for him and he needs to make the most of it.
“The most important thing is that he will have a chance to play many more matches there, than he might have done here at Sunderland.
“And playing competitive matches regularly is what will give him the best chance to impress.”
The arrival of Juventus left-winger Emanuele Giaccherini this summer obviously put a big question mark over the former Derry City’s wideman’s first-team chances.
But with McClean’s departure for a fee rumoured to be around the £2m mark, Sunderland have wasted no time in looking for back-up to Giaccherini by reviving their interest in Panathinaikos winger Charis Mavrais.
Having initially agreed a £2.5m fee for the 19-year-old last month, Sunderland have gone back in to ask if the Greek club would accept a season-long loan.
The Black Cats are hoping to keep their powder dry for other signings – most notably a midfield general and two full-backs.
But cash-strapped Panathinaikos have made it clear that they will only contemplate a permanent move.
That puts the ball back in Sunderland’s court – keen to bring in Mavrais but facing a decision over that £2.5m fee.
Meanwhile, former Derry City star McClean has spoken of his relief at completing his move.
“I’m delighted it’s all been completed and I can say I’m a Wigan Athletic player,” he said after penning a three-year contract and landing the No.11 shirt for the Latics.
“It’s a fantastic club and after speaking with the manager, I can’t wait to meet the rest of the team, start training and hopefully make my debut very soon with the aim of helping us get back to the Premier League.
“You can see this is a club moving in the right direction again and I can’t wait to be a part of that.
“I know James McCarthy (a Republic of Ireland team-mate) very well and he’s said only good things about the place so I’m really looking forward to getting started and meeting everyone.”
McClean is Owen Coyle’s 10th signing since taking charge following former boss Roberto Martinez’s departure to Everton.
Wigan head to Wembley on Sunday to meet Manchester United in the Community Shield, and McClean is eligible to play.
The Latics face a 46-game Championship programme and also have the Europa League to look forward to.