FORMER Ireland youth international Eugene Ferry will quit the Derry City squad after next week's FAI Cup final and move to England for a new role -- James McClean's minder.
McClean, who made his ninth appearance of the season for Sunderland in Sunday's Premier League draw with Newcastle United, is very much part of Martin O'Neill's long-term plans at the Stadium of Light and, having arrived from Derry for a fee of just €400,000, is seen as one of the club's best-ever buys.
But O'Neill and Sunderland are concerned about McClean getting himself into trouble off the field, such as his recent Twitter rant against Giovanni Trapattoni which forced McClean to apologise to the Ireland boss and his international team-mates.
McClean previously had to remove himself from Twitter after getting involved in rows over his defection from Northern Ireland to the Republic.
So Ferry, who is back-up keeper to Derry's No.1 Ger Doherty, is moving over to the north-east of England next month effectively to look after his close pal.
Despite his success in the first team at Sunderland, the club fear that McClean has not settled in the city when it comes to off-the-field business.
Local sources say McClean takes any opportunity, even a half-day off, to go home to Derry to spend time with friends and family, and the 23-year-old will be in the stands at Lansdowne Road on Sunday week when the Candystripes play St Patrick's Athletic in the FAI Cup final.
"I'm heading over to Sunderland in a couple of weeks and the aim is just to help James settle in a wee bit more," Ferry told the Herald. "I will look for a job over there. Sunderland said they will help me out with that and I might play for some non-league side over there, but the move is going ahead.
"The idea is to help James out a bit. The club and James will use me to help them out, but the move will help me too. I have a degree and I'd like to move into teaching over there," added Ferry, who laughs at the notion that he'll be McClean's bodyguard.
"James can look after himself but he needs a bit of help, and we're very close mates, we have the sort of relationship where we can bounce off each other," added Ferry, who was capped three times by the Republic at U19 level in 2006.
"James won't want me with him 24/7 and I don't want to be around him all day either, but we will be close to each other. If he is over there on his own and getting bored he could end up doing or saying things he shouldn't, but if I am close to him over there I can help out.
"And I might be there to stop him tweeting. That's the way James is. Whenever he does something like that he never talks to anyone before doing it, he just writes what's on his mind, whereas if he'd say it to me first I'd try to stop him saying it on twitter.
"Hopefully, I'll be there to tell him to wise-up. It's just to keep him on the straight and narrow. James is a great lad and a brilliant player, he can go so far with his career but he hasn't helped himself at times, with the stuff on Twitter especially. I know that he really regrets the last incident on Twitter after the Kazakhstan game.
"No one player is bigger than the team or the country and James needs to realise stuff like that," added Ferry, who was already on the books at Derry when McClean joined.
"Myself and David McDaid, our striker here, fought to get James to the club as we knew what a talent he was.
"We told the reserve team manager about him and from the first day he trained here the club knew he was a special talent.
"He's a model professional and he's still the same lad he was the day he left here, and I know he'll be cheering for us against St Pat's."
Having joined Derry in 2005, Ferry is one of the longest-serving players at the club but he's played only a handful of games in that time as he's always been second-choice keeper, a role he'll fill in the Cup final on Sunday week.
"Ger Doherty is the best keeper in the country by a mile so I don't expect to get a game. He's such a great keeper to train with and learn from, but I will prepare well for the final and be ready to come on, you never know what could happen on the day," Ferry added.
"Pat's are the favourites for the final. They have been in with a shout for the league all along and we weren't.
"I know we've had a bit of form in the last few weeks but I see us as being the underdogs."