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McClean coping well with meteoric rise - Sunderland's O'Neill

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill feels that James McClean is handling his rise to the top extremely well.

The 22-year old midfielder has emerged on the scene in the past couple of months, following his £350,000 move from Derry City in the summer, and the Black Cats boss is proud of the way he has come into his own.

O'Neill also touched on the fact that opposition managers have begun to target McClean who has been told to back his judgment by the gaffer.

"He is playing with great instinct, but what he is having to try to do is not just that, he is having to think a little bit about the game and I think he is doing that," said O'Neill after the Republic of Ireland international scored and set up a goal in the 3-1 win over QPR.

"He knows, or I am sure he is becoming more aware now, of the impact he is making, and therefore obviously teams are going to pay him special attention.

"On Tuesday, Blackburn Rovers were making some sort of plans for him.

"He is learning that - he needs a little bit of help, obviously, from the likes of myself, but he is going to find this out for himself, and so far he has coped very, very well indeed.

"Never knock that, absolutely, that's what sets him apart at the moment.

"The other thing is just giving that little bit more thought now and again, but never to lose that instinct."

He added: "James McClean could easily have gone and played the first two or three games, failed to make any sort of impact and he could have been back playing [in the reserves] again.

"As it turns out, the character of him suggests otherwise, but it could have happened."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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