JAMES McClean may have established a reputation for himself in the Premier League in just four short months, but Keith Bertschin reckons: “there is definitely more to come” from the 22-year-old – just so long as he remains “humble and excited”.
McClean (pictured) arrived at the Stadium of Light last summer in a £350,000 move from League of Ireland side Derry City but never played a minute’s first-team football under Steve Bruce.
That changed when Martin O’Neill arrived and brought him on as a substitute in his first game in charge, sparking a revival from a goal down to beat Blackburn in the final few minutes.
But there had already been signs of the youngster’s promise in the 11 games he had played under reserve-team coach Bertschin, the winger scoring two goals.
And while Bertschin admits there may come times when McClean’s form dips, he believes McClean’s “wonderful work ethic” will ensure the player continues to get better and better.
“If James McClean can remain as humble and excited as he has been, he has a good future ahead of him,” said Bertschin.
“It’s OK to be quietly confident, but he’s well aware that any player can be one game away from a disaster.
“He’s a sound boy and he’s got a wonderful work ethic. He’s constantly gaining in experience and in confidence.
“Like anybody else he will go up and down form-wise – there will be the odd game where he’ll be disappointed at his own performance.
“But he has had a key role in the resurgence of the team under Martin O’Neill.
“When you talk about a player taking opportunities when they come, he is a great example of a footballer doing just that.
“Not long ago, he was playing for Derry.
“He came over, showed he wanted to learn and wanted to work and was soon elevated into the first-team picture.
“He’s learning every week and I think there’s definitely more to come from him.”