'Forrester's a natural'
St Pat's midfielder backed to follow in McClean's footsteps to top level
ST PATRICK'S Athletic defender Ger O'Brien remembers a time when a young lad called James McClean wasn't able to get into the Derry City first team, only for the winger to go on and take the English Premier League by storm and also make the Ireland squad for Euro 2012.
And O'Brien (inset) reckons that his current team-mate at St Pats, midfielder Christopher Forrester, has enough ability to follow the example of McClean and go on to impress at the highest levels.
McClean and O'Brien were team-mates for a season at Derry City in the 2009 campaign, and O'Brien was already able to spot the potential of the youngster, even though he struggled for games at Derry that season.
"James was at Derry when I was there but I don't think he played that much. Stephen Kenny had signed Liam Kearney and he was in ahead of James," says O'Brien ahead of the Saints' trip north to face Monaghan United tonight.
"But James had great talent and really wanted to succeed in the game and it's great to see him getting his rewards now.
"I see Christopher Forrester in training every day here at Pats and his ability is amazing. He definitely has the potential to do as much as James McClean has, it's just a case of whether he gets a chance.
"Lads like Keith Fahey and Kevin Doyle have done it at the highest level and I'd love to see Chris get the chance to do the same.
"Christopher has unbelievable ability, he's a pure street footballer.
"He's playing against Derry or Cork City in a big League of Ireland match but he plays the same way as if he was just out playing with his mates. He's great to watch.
"Chris is a very quiet lad, when he first came to the club he was quite shy but he's really coming into his own now as he's got used to the lads as a group," added O'Brien, an ever-present in the Saints defence this season as part of a defensive unit which has been unchanged in the league programme.
Pats will need the mercurial talents of Forrester and their other attacking players tonight if they are to open up Monaghan, as O'Brien accepts that his side just have to stop drawing games if they are to make an impact this season, with seven draws in 13 games so far.
"It's very early in the season to be talking about must-win games but we can't afford to keep getting draws, it's very frustrating," says the former Shamrock Rovers and Sporting Fingal man.
"In the last couple of league games we have been very open at the back and that's not like us. Up until we played Bray we had been very tight defensively, we only conceded one goal in five games, but we let in five goals in the last two in the league.
"Last week's defeat to Dundalk was maybe what we needed, it was a wake-up call that we need to do better," he added.
"I see us having a hard game tonight. We'll need to be at our best to get something."