WEB EXCLUSIVE: Gary Rowell’s praise for Sunderland winger McClean

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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WHEN you looked at Sunderland’s forward players against Middlesbrough, I just thought they looked a bit heavy-legged.

But the one spark they did get came from James McClean who really upped his game in the second half.

This lad is becoming a real worry for opposition defences and the assist for Fraizer Campbell’s goal was a real highlight.

It was a perfectly-weighted pass, but what I liked about it was his anticipation of a poor back-pass.

Some forwards in that position might have saved their energy, but he was straight onto it and it allowed him to pick out Campbell.

I thought he was quite easily our best player and he is becoming a key man.

MARTIN O’Neill won’t be worrying too much about Arsenal yet because there’s a big job to be done first.

But both Sunderland and Middlesbrough have got a big incentive with the fifth round draw, especially the Championship side who would love a home tie against a team of Arsenal’s calibre.

With both of the Manchester clubs out of the FA Cup now and another half-dozen Premier League teams eliminated, there is a real opportunity for sides like Sunderland to go a long way in the competition.

That makes it even more disappointing that they have not done the business against Boro at the first time of asking.

The cup is a real possibility for Sunderland this season and I am sure O’Neill will be aware of that.

READ THE full Gary Rowell column in today’s Echo