O'Neill - McClean can impress again

PA Sport

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is tipping James McClean to go from strength to strength as he attempts to build on a stunning first season in the Barclays Premier League.

The 23-year-old former Derry City winger was a sensation in the second half of the last campaign after being handed a first senior appearance as a substitute in O'Neill's first game at the helm in December. His form earned him a place in Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland squad for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine.

O'Neill said: "It is a big season for him. There is obviously always talk about second season syndrome, that type of stuff, but I have a good belief that I don't think it will affect him. He has come back, he's done exceptionally well in training here. He looks every bit as strong as he was before and he looks every bit as determined."

McClean's trip to the Euros proved a frustrating one as Ireland under-performed and he was limited to just 14 minutes on the pitch in a brief cameo against Spain.

However, O'Neill is confident the experience will stand him in good stead for the future.

He said: "I am sure it is a great experience for him. I think he was a bit disappointed that he didn't get on to the field, that's natural, but I think it will be great for him to have been involved.

"If you had spoken to him at the end of November last year and to talk about he might be disappointed at not playing in the European Championship, he would never have believed it, so he has to take all those things into consideration.

"He knows he will get an opportunity there to play for his country and really, the rest will be up to him. But he is flying at the moment."

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