JAMES McCLEAN admits his first taste of the Premier League has come sooner than he expected after an explosive Sunderland debut.
McClean was earmarked as one for the future when he arrived at the Stadium of Light in a £350,000 deal from Derry City during the summer.
But the 22-year-old has progressed swiftly in his four months on Wearside, finally getting his chance from the bench in Sunday’s victory over Blackburn after being left among the substitutes on eight previous occasions.
McClean, who impressed new boss Martin O’Neill in last week’s reserve team win over Manchester United, grasped his opportunity by providing the spark for Sunderland’s late comeback.
He said: “When I arrived, I just wanted to get into the team as soon as possible.
“But I didn’t honestly expect it to be as quick as it has been.
“I came here with the mindset of working hard every day in training, trying to improve as a player and eventually getting into the team.
“Now I’m just delighted to get my debut out of the way.
“But I’m not taking anything for granted, I know it’s only one game. I’ll continue with what I’ve been doing in training and try to improve.”