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McClean wants to prove his worth to Di Canio
AS Paolo Di Canio scours the transfer market in search of a new winger, Irishman James McClean has stressed he will return to Sunderland more mature after learning lessons from last season.
Despite stopping short of defending Di Canio's style in light of some strong criticism from released defender Titus Bramble, McClean insists he is purely focused on returning to Wearside in prime shape for a first pre-season under the Italian.
It has been an eventful 18 months for the 24-year-old at Sunderland, where McClean has found controversy for messages on social networking site Twitter and a refusal to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt.
And while he indicated he "has no regrets" over anything what has happened, he did suggest a determination to put the past behind him by impressing with a football again after a frustrating second season in the Premier League.
"I've hired my own personal trainer to get stronger and fitter for next season," said McClean. "I want to concentrate on myself. He will work with me through the summer on speed work, strength and power - I want to go back for pre-season in the best of shape. I've a holiday booked for ten days so I'll switch off for those ten days and then concentrate."
He added: "I've never wanted to make headlines other than football. That's just the way life is. Hopefully I can make the headlines for all the right reasons, for my football."
It is unclear whether McClean working on his fitness during the close-season will help persuade Di Canio alone to keep him, but the Republic of Ireland wide-man also thinks he has a different mindset these days.
He said: "It was a bit of a whirlwind fist six months for me at Sunderland, I was on top of the world and then a lot of things happened in between then but that will help me as a person.
"If I can learn from all that it will put me in good stead for the future. If you look at it I was getting all the media but I was still the same lad that I'd been back at Derry and that went against me. What I want is to just be me and what comes of that comes of that.
"Both managers (Giovanni Trapatonni and Martin O'Neill) had a word with me in the past and looking back I probably haven't been the easiest to work with, but I've taken that on board and I've matured a bit and hopefully it that's behind me."
With £10m man Adam Johnson likely to be the winger Di Canio is keen to retain, McClean will have noted the manager is targeting fresh talent on the wing in the shape of Newells Old Boys' Nacho Scocco and Fenerbache's Serbian Milos Krasic.
Almost every member of the Sunderland squad is facing an uncertain summer, with Di Canio's unpredictability and desire to change the face of the squad leading to a summer of change.
After his release, Bramble indicated this week that the former Lazio manager "thinks he knows everything" and was "making some big mistakes" after hitting players with fines under strict disciplinary rules.
But McClean, who often made ill-timed comments in the past, was in no mood to do so again yesterday, even if he failed to give Di Canio's approach his full backing.
"That's Titus' opinion, I'll leave that to Titus," said McClean. "I'm not going to comment on the matter."
And, having previously worked under fellow Derryman Martin O'Neill at the Stadium of Light, added: "Each manager has his own style so I'll say no more on it.
"The two managers had two different styles but he's come in and helped us to get the points that made us safe so I guess you could say: job done. Hopefully next season we can push on ..."
McClean has become an international since joining from Derry City in a £350,000 deal in August 2011 and is heavily involved in the Ireland squad this week.
After figuring in the draw with England and set up the two goals in Sunday's victory over Georgia. He is now hoping to figure in Friday's World Cup qualifier against Faroe Islands and then against reigning world and European champions Spain in New York on June 11.
"I'm looking forward to New York, playing Spain at the Yankees Stadium is nice to have on your CV to look back on," he said. "I'm looking forward to it, I've never been to New York before so it'll be a good trip.
"We're on a good run at the moment. We've got a lot of confidence which is obviously a big help. Hopefully on Friday we can push on and score a few more goals although the most important thing is just to get three more points."
There is a belief that McClean could still be left out by Trapattoni's team to face the Faroes despite his goals. He is, though, hoping to head in to the summer on a high after a frustrating campaign at Sunderland.
"It's been a difficult season for me at club level," he said. "Hopefully I'm going to put that behind me and push on here with the Ireland squad. The other day gave me a bit of confidence with the two assists so hopefully if called upon I can do a job.
"It's been difficult for a lot of reasons, they've been well publicised but that's all in the past now. I hope to come back fitter and sharper for next season and push on from where I was at."
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