I had to quit Sunderland, says Wigan’s James McClean

BACKED ... James McClean
BACKED ... James McClean

JAMES McClean admits he needed to leave Sunderland this summer after losing both his confidence and enthusiasm at the Stadium of Light.

McClean could make his Wigan debut in the Community Shield at Wembley tomorrow after finalising his £2m switch to the Championship outfit earlier this week.

The 24-year-old only penned a lucrative new contract with Sunderland 17 months ago after making a stunning start to his Premier League career under Martin O’Neill.

But despite making 36 top flight appearances last season, McClean was unable to replicate that form, and was involved in several controversial sagas on Twitter, and then by his refusal to wear a poppy-embroidered shirt to mark Remembrance Day.

The Republic of International concedes he didn’t help himself off-the-field, yet stresses that he wasn’t enjoying his stints under O’Neill, and then Paolo Di Canio.

“I really do believe this is the right move for me,” said McClean.

“Obviously things had gone wrong for me at Sunderland.

“I’m fully aware that I made mistakes, and while I would also admit to losing my confidence, I certainly wasn’t enjoying my football.

“I’ve already held my hand up admitting the mistakes I’ve made, but I also believe I’ve learned from those experiences, and moved on.

“The move to Wigan is the right one, but I will have regrets leaving Sunderland.

“I had many good times, and played with some fantastic players. I’ve made many friends, particularly among the playing staff, and I will miss them.

“John O’Shea has always been a great friend to me, and I will miss his guidance and advice. I have no problems with the club that gave me the chance to prove myself when playing at the top level.

“I realise I must put my head down (at Wigan) and work hard to establish myself, and hopefully get into the first team.

“I’m 24, I believe I have something to offer, and I’m keen to keep my place in the Ireland team, but I must secure regular football if I’m to do that.”

McClean took a pay drop to join the relegated Latics on a three-year deal after being pushed down Sunderland’s pecking order by the arrival of Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini.

But the former Derry City man insists he was impressed by the vision of new Wigan manager Owen Coyle after becoming last season’s FA Cup winners’ 10th signing of the summer.

“I’ve had a good discussion with the manager and he outlined his plans for the future,” added McClean.

“We talked about what he expected of me and his hopes to make a quick return to the Premier League.

“I was very impressed with his plans and I realised that a move to Wigan may be just what’s needed to get me back enjoying playing football again.

“The fact that Wigan won the FA Cup last season and now have the Europa League to look forward to was also a big factor for me as I want to play in Europe.

“But the fact that the manager had kept so many of his players from last year together, players who had played in the Premiership was also important.

“I’m not sure if I will be involved (tomorrow) but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Hopefully I will be part of the travelling squad.”