Sunderland’s James McClean wants to make his mark

James McClean
James McClean
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JAMES McCLEAN hopes he is not cast aside as a one-hit wonder after making his first Premier League start.

McClean impressed on his full Sunderland debut in Sunday’s win over Manchester City after making three substitute appearances under Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill.

The ex-Derry City winger had been pushing hard for a starting spot, but was given his chance after injury and illness left O’Neill with threadbare options.

With Sunderland likely to be similarly depleted at Wigan tonight, McClean hopes he has done enough to to remain in the starting line-up.

McClean said: “The Wigan match has come up very quickly, so I’ll keep my head down and my fingers crossed. Naturally I’d love to keep my place, but that’s not going to be my decision.

“If I’m not selected to start, then I’ll be hopeful of getting a place on the bench. I’ll continue to work hard and do what I’ve been told.

“I was aware of the situation with the other first team players and as I had already made three appearances as a substitute, deep down I really hoped the gaffer would give me my first start.

“I felt I had a chance, but I was not prepared to take anything for granted. When I was made aware that I was getting my chance, I was determined not to be over-awed. I wanted to keep my head down, work hard and hope for the best.

“I played the full match, which was brilliant as it’s another step forward in my hopes of securing a first team place, so I was very happy.

“The fact that we won the match made the occasion all the more significant and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the reaction of the crowd after the goal.

“I think everyone was very nervous. We did well to hold out on occasions, but it just goes to show you the character that is in this team.

“Everyone was prepared to work their socks off from the first whistle to the last and in my view, we were deservedly rewarded in the end.”

McClean could come up against a familiar face at the DW Stadium, with ex-Derry team-mate Conor Sammon in Wigan’s ranks.

Sammon was an unused substitute in New Year’s Eve’s 2-2 draw at Stoke City after a successful appeal against his three-match ban for a red card in Boxing Day’s rout at Manchester United.

The 25-year-old striker could feature tonight though as Latics boss Roberto Martinez looks to introduce fresh legs.

McClean added: “I was on the bench when Wigan won at our place with a late goal, but I was not involved in the match. I saw Conor during the warm-up but I don’t think he actually recognised me.

“Hopefully, Conor will recognise me on Tuesday night if I get selected. If I am involved in the game, I’ll be letting him know I’m there!”