Sunderland winger James McClean ‘was on Chelsea’s radar’

Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn reveals Chelsea could have signed James McClean before he moved to the Black Cats

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Martin O'Neill has handed James McClean a regular run in Sunderland's first team PA Photos

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Former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has revealed James McClean had attracted interest from Chelsea before the winger signed for the Black Cats last summer.

McClean joined Sunderland from League of Ireland side Derry City for just £350,000 back in August and has impressed under manager Martin O’Neill, netting four goals in 16 appearances.

The 22-year-old’s impact at the Stadium of Light earned him a first call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad last week, with McClean sealing his first cap as a substitute during the 1-1 draw with Czech Republic.

And former Ireland striker Quinn revealed how Chelsea refused to take a chance on the winger.

“The funny story about James McClean is Pop Robson, a very famous player for West Ham United, Newcastle United and Sunderland, was Chelsea’s scout for Ireland and Scotland,” Quinn told RTE.

“We poached him towards the end of August to come and work for Sunderland, and on his first day with Steve Bruce and I, he told us about this player he had been watching in Derry.

“He said Chelsea wouldn’t take a chance on him, and there were a couple of other clubs trying to sign him. He asked us to act quickly and it was only small money. Pop asked us to trust him on James. So it was really Pop who did it.”

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