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Forrester can match McClean, claims Buckley

GIVEN the impact James McClean has made since moving to Sunderland from Derry City last summer, the search is on for the next hidden gem in the Airtricity League.

And Liam Buckley reckons that St Patrick's Athletic winger Chris Forrester is already better technically than the Ireland star and just needs to bulk up before making the next step.

The Smithfield youngster hit the headlines and became a YouTube sensation last month with his double whammy of spectacular goals against Shamrock Rovers.

"The difference between Chris and James McClean is that McClean is solid, he's all muscle, he can take people on and will run through a brick wall," Buckley said yesterday after Forrester had picked up the Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association Player of the Month Award for April.

"Ability-wise on the ball, Chris is far better. But physique-wise, McClean would have that on him.

"He's a different type player -- he is more of a ball player who sees passes and scores good goals."

Buckley says his young star needs to be patient and improve his physique sufficiently to make the next step.

"The one thing about Chris is that he is around six foot, so he has the potential to fill out and get that bit stronger. Having played abroad, I'd love to see him go even further than England because he would definitely be appreciated more.

"The one thing with respect to England and the Premier League is it is tough, it is physically a man's game. Whether he would be ready for that now, I don't know."

Forrester is delighted with his form since leaving his boyhood club Bohs to cross the city. Although he grew up idolising Glen Crowe and Kevin Hunt at Dalymount, he made the career choice to move to Inchicore and hasn't looked back.

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"I didn't think I'd settle in as quickly as I did," he said. "When I came to the club I was expecting to be on the bench but I'm after breaking into the team and my main aim is to stay in the team and do my best."

Having had trials with Watford and Wolves last season, the 19-year-old knows what areas of his game he needs to work on.

"The day I was leaving Wolves I had a talk with the youth-team coach and he was just telling me that I need to be more confident and vocal," he said. "When I went into the Wolves dressing-room I was very shy and very timid, and he was just telling me to be more vocal, to stand tall more.

"On the pitch he was pretty happy with me, he was complimenting me about when I was on the ball and my work, but mainly he said be confident off the pitch because that helps a lot in the dressing-room -- being a strong character."

A two-year deal keeps Forrester at Richmond Park until the end of next season; he has time on his side and Saints fans will be only too happy to watch him flourish.

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