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McClean is still a wide boy: O'Neill

MARTIN O'NEILL plans to end his experiment of playing James McClean in a central midfield role, but the Sunderland boss feels that Ireland man McClean has benefited from the experience.

McClean was played in a central position for large parts of recent games against Liverpool and Tottenham but that is now due to end, says O'Neill.

"I thought he would give us a bit of physical strength in there, which we lack against other teams in the Premier League. But as to whether it is a long-term thing, I am not really sure about that," said O'Neill.

"James is still learning his own position out wide and it is a different issue going in there. In terms of his overall game, it will do him no harm at all.

"Even though it is only 15 yards infield, you get a very different picture.

"When you are playing out wide, they say the white line is your friend - nobody is going to come from behind the line to tackle you.

"John Robertson used to say that that was what he loved about playing there. The line was there for him and you know where you are.

"When you are infield, there are players coming in from either side of you, from behind you and from in front of you. The second you miscontrol it, people are on top of you and suddenly you've lost the ball."