Newly appointed Nottingham Forest boss Martin O’Neill is said to be keen to reunite with his former Sunderland and Republic of Ireland favourite James McClean at his new club.
What’s the word, then?
O’Neill gave the feisty winger his debut in English football during the pair’s time together on Wearside with Sunderland, throwing him in at the deep end in a 2-1 win against Blackburn Rovers.
The Irish duo have since spent five years working together with the Republic of Ireland national team, where it could be argued that McClean played some of his best football since moving to England from his former club Derry City.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that O’Neill is keen to strengthen his squad, as a lot of his newly acquainted charges find themselves stricken with injury problems – defender Yohan Benalouane has been bought in from Leicester already, but the former Aston Villa boss wants more reinforcements.
What are the chances of a move?
Another newly appointed boss in Stoke manager Nathan Jones has stressed the need to ‘streamline’ his squad, believing that there are ‘too many’ players at the club.
McClean has started 17 Championship games this season but was on the bench for Jones’ first game in charge against Leeds recently, so he could be allowed to leave if the Potters can recoup the £5m they spent on the 29-year-old back in the summer.
Forest sit seven points adrift of the play-off places following a poor run of form, but O’Neill will be hoping to guide them back on track with the addition of McClean.
Furthermore, the new Forest boss is hoping to be reunited with Roy Keane, who he worked alongside whilst with the Republic of Ireland national team – that move could be made before the Reds’ next game against Wigan at the City Ground.
McClean seems to be a tough player to handle, given the frequent amount of disagreements he tends to have with opponents on the field. As aforementioned, he can be a feisty player, but if anyone can tame him, it is O’Neill.
The Forest boss knows what McClean is capable of down that left flank, with his extremely direct running and fine crossing ability sure to be a problem for opposition defences – McClean has one goal and an impressive six assists so far this season, showcasing his ability to create goals.
O’Neill lined up with a 4-4-2 system in his first game in charge against Bristol City recently, and McClean’s pace and drive would be ideal down that left wing.