Irish winger James McClean he will be playing a new position at his club this season, with Stoke City manager Nathan Jones in the process of converting him into a left-back.
McClean primarily played as either a left-winger or a left-sided midfielder during his first season at Stoke, however with left-back a problem area for the Potters, Jones has opted to switch the 30-year old to a defensive position.
Stoke also recently picked up free agent Stephen Ward and he and McClean look as though they will be the Championship club’s two main options this season at left-back this season.
Speaking in quotes reported by the Stoke Sentinel.co.uk, Jones outlined that he feels McClean, who is known for his work-rate and tenacity, has all the attributes to be an excellent option at full-back in their current system.
“We’ve looked and we saw but we’ve got two in the building. We’re happy with Stephen Ward, he’s very experienced and gives us a real bit of security there – and we’re working with James McClean.
“James McClean has all the attributes to play as a full-back in our system. Athletic, wants to do it, wants to learn, wants to get forward, can head it, very good going forward.”
Jones, who joined Stoke midway through last season from Luton Town, has previous experience of converting a winger into a full-back having done it very successfully with Jack Stacey.
The 23-year old’s switch to a more defensive role suited him well and after helping Luton to promotion to the Championship, Stacey was snapped up by Bournemouth.
“I did it at previous clubs,” said Jones.
“Jack Stacey when he came was a right winger and now he’s suddenly playing in the Premier League with Bournemouth for £6m.
“Our full-backs need attributes and that’s what we have.”
McClean‘s switch will now also mean that he will likely be playing two different positions for club and country with Mick McCarthy, who is clearly a fan of the Derry native, playing him as a left-winger in Ireland’s last three games.