Wigan new boy McClean says Sunderland wanted to keep him

James McClean. Picture courtesy of Wigan Athletic
James McClean. Picture courtesy of Wigan Athletic
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JAMES McClean says Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio tried to persuade him to stay at the Stadium of Light, and that it was his decision to leave Wearside.

The Irish winger joined Owen Coyle’s Wigan last week for £2million, making his debut in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday against Manchester United.

McClean said: “It was coming for a while. I know it’s been said that Sunderland got rid of me, that they wanted to sell me, but that’s not actually the case.

“Last season, as soon as we got safe, I went in to see the manager, sat down and told him I wanted to leave and the reasons why.

“And, fair play to him, he understood and they didn’t stand in my way.

“I just needed to play regular football and I felt it was time for a fresh start and a clean slate. He [Di Canio] was understanding.

“We had a good chat and he tried to persuade me to stay, which was obviously nice to hear, but for me it was time to move on. And the club then tried to help me get a move as well, fair play to them.”

Having burst onto the scene at the beginning of Martin O’Neill’s reign at the Stadium of Light, McClean struggled to replicate that form in his first full season in the Premier League, scoring just twice in top flight despite featuring in all but two of the Black Cats’ matches.

McClean’s first team opportunities on Wearside were likely to be limited this season after the arrival of Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini, with Sunderland also still interested in bringing in Greek youngster Charis Mavrias from Panathinaikos to boost their options on the flanks.