JACK Colback has backed James McClean to again benefit from the “surprise element” by thriving at the European Championships.
McClean is in line to win his second Republic of Ireland cap in tomorrow’s Dublin friendly with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the first of two warm-up games for Giovanni’s Trapattoni’s side prior to next month’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
While the Sunderland winger’s meteoric rise in the Premier League has been well-documented, he remains an unknown on the international stage.
The 23-year-old didn’t play any part in Ireland’s successful Euro 2012 qualifying campaign and only made his senior debut as a late substitute against the Czech Republic in February.
But Sunderland team-mate Colback believes being an unknown can help McClean after he immediately starred for the Black Cats when introduced to the Premier League as a modest £350,000 signing from Derry City.
Colback told SportMail: “Not many will know about him. That helped him when he first started playing for us.
“He had that surprise element and I think Ireland have got a good chance of doing well there if he can make an impression on the Euro’s.
“He’s the type of player who can change games.
“He’ll not see the ball for 10 minutes and then he’ll get it and the fans are immediately lifted. He’s that type of exciting player.
“If he gets the chance, I’m sure he can make an impact.”
McClean’s performances, after making his first Sunderland start on New Year’s Day, swiftly saw him make a far more prominent impression on the radar of opposition sides.
But the left winger continued to thrive, with his six goals in 28 appearances earning him the club’s Young Player of the Year prize.
McClean pipped Colback to the accolade, although the latter holds no sour grapes over finishing runner-up after starting 28 of Sunderland’s 38 top flight outings.
“I probably expected James to win the young player prize,” added the 22-year-old.
“He had a fantastic season, where he was absolutely flying and congratulations to him.
“I don’t mind that, as long as I’m playing and doing well.”