Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

O'Neill's Confidence Boost for James; McClean Can Have Big Euro Impact

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

O'Neill's Confidence Boost for James; McClean Can Have Big Euro Impact

Article excerpt

Byline: STUART RAYNER

MARTIN O'Neill has given James McClean the confidence that has taken him to the European Championships - according to Kevin Sheedy, writes STUART RAYNER. McClean (pictured left) will be hoping to play in the Republic of Ireland left wing berth the cultured Sheedy filled with such distinction 47 times. It is an incredible transformation for a player who at the start of December had played no senior football in this country.

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It famously began when O'Neill, in his first week as Sunderland manager, identified McClean in a reserve-team game against Manchester United, and handed him his debut as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers on the Sunday. His introduction inspired the Black Cats to turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 lead, and Mc-Clean quickly became a fixture on the left.

It was Steve Bruce who signed McClean from his hometown club Derry City in August, yet he seemed to lack the confidence to throw the youngster into the fray. "James is proof that having the right manager brings the best out of a player," said Sheedy, who also had a spell on the coaching staff at Hartlepool United. "I always found that in my career. I didn't enjoy playing under Eoin Hand with Ireland, but I did enjoy playing under Jack Charlton. "Martin arrived and spotted something. A player will perform for a manager who believes in him. Martin has given him the confidence to play well and that has pushed him in to the international reckoning." Sheedy is a youth team coach at Everton, who played Sunderland four teams last season. He clearly sees the value of psychology in McClean's rapid rise, and his mentality has left a mark.

"We played Sunderland twice in the FA Cup, as well as in the league this season. So, I got a good look at him," he commented. "He certainly caught the eye and I enjoyed watching him. …

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