JAMES McClean’s emergence has given Sunderland the hurry-up under Martin O’Neill – and the Northern Irishman will be in the market for more pace in the summer.
The Black Cats paid Derry City £350,000 for the left-winger in August very much as one for the future.
However, having taken one look at him in the reserves O’Neill decided he was ready for Premier League football.
Yesterday’s deadline-day dealing, which brought Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos to Wearside, was simply about plugging the gaps in Sunderland’s squad – but when he reshapes his side this summer O’Neill will be looking to inject it with the main quality his compatriot McClean has brought – speed.
O’Neill, who watched McClean in a reserve game against Manchester United during his first week in charge and handed the youngster his senior debut days later, said: “We had a bit more pace in the team. James by his mere presence has given us a wee bit of a lift there.
“We were not the paciest team before. It is nice to inject a wee bit more of that to give us a better chance. That will be something in the longer term we would be looking at throughout the team.”
Stamina would appear to be another of McClean’s qualities, judging by his habit of improving in the second half. O’Neill has a different explanation.
He added: “Maybe it is because he is on my side of the pitchin the second half so I can talk to him.
“The two of us probably understand each other being from around about the same area. I can hardly shout across the other end to tell him to tuck in.
“I thought he did not do too badly in the first half against Middlesbrough on Sunday.
“The shot he had saved, initially I thought he could have taken it in but I have seen the replay and noticed the fellow coming across to challenge him so he had to hit it quite quickly.
“He was fantastic for us in the second half. He has been a big spark for us and long may it continue.
“Also his willingness to track back and help out left-back Kieran Richardson is fantastic.”