JAMES McCLEAN is aiming to be a threat with both feet next season after finding himself a marked man by Premier League full-backs.
McClean’s first full campaign as a top flight regular proved to be an arduous one for the 24-year-old after struggling to hit the heights of his breakthrough first few months for the Black Cats.
The winger, on the bench for the Republic of Ireland in tonight’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, no longer benefited from the element of the unknown after bursting onto the Premier League scene in the closing stages of the 2011-12 season.
McClean admits that defenders had learned to cope with him and his form suffered as a result.
But the ex-Derry City man has vowed to develop both his weaker right foot and his final ball next season after he enlists the help of a personal trainer during the summer.
“Obviously, there is a lot I can work on in my game to get better,” said McClean.
“My right foot is one area, it’s important to work on it. And things like the final pass as well.
“It’s been a difficult season at the club for me, my form was indifferent.
“I came to England first and played for six months and footballers are not stupid, so they know you after that.”
McClean started five of Paolo Di Canio’s seven games in charge of Sunderland at the tail end of last season, as the Black Cats managed to secure Premier League survival.
But there has still been speculation that McClean is among the players that Di Canio is willing to offload this summer, as he plots an overhaul of Sunderland’s squad.
Celtic are among those who have been linked with McClean, but the wideman is keeping an open mind on the situation.
“I’ll look at what happens over the summer and push on and do the best for me personally and whatever comes of that, comes of that,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sunderland midfielder Seb Larsson is in the Sweden side to face Austria in tonight’s World Cup qualifier.
If the two sides draw and Ireland beat the Faroes, in Dublin, then Giovanni Trapattoni’s side will move into second spot behind group leaders Germany.