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£1m per year deal gives timely boost to McClean's Euro hopes

JAMES McCLEAN insists he has no intention of becoming complacent after signing a bumper new contract with Sunderland that should earn him over £1m (€1.2m) a year between now and 2015.

The Ireland international -- who has taken the Premier League by storm since his debut in December -- has put pen to paper on a deal that is believed to be worth in the region of £25,000 a week including bonuses.

It's a staggering increase for the flying winger who has adapted brilliantly to life in England but he is determined to push on and seek new targets, including a place in this summer's European Championships and an FA Cup final appearance with the Black Cats. They play Everton in a quarter-final replay next week.

laurels

"I'm over the moon,"said McClean last night. "I'm absolutely delighted to be able to sign and keep me here for the next few years.

"It's nice to be offered a new contract, as it shows I'm doing pretty well. However, I'm not going to rest on my laurels because I want this to be the first of many.

"I've been quite pleased with how I've played so far, but at the same time, I want to improve on each game.

"We have had a lot of difficult games recently, and it takes a lot out of the players. We're still confident though that we can finish the season well, and maybe even make a cup final."

McClean, who turns 23 next month, has plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks. His manager Martin O'Neill said yesterday that opposition defenders are learning more about his strengths, but the player says he doesn't feel any extra responsibility.

"I haven't really been fazed with anything so far, which I suppose is a good thing," he said. "I don't think about the pressure; I just go out and play my own game.

"Obviously, making my debut for Sunderland and Ireland were special moments for me, as well as scoring my first goal for the club."

But that would take second fiddle should Giovanni Trapattoni extend the call for a trip to Poland this summer.

"Obviously it would be a dream come true to represent your country at a major tournament, and come the summer, hopefully I'll be in a position to do that," he said.

"But my main focus for now is Sunderland, and helping us finish the season as strongly as possible. Hopefully, that will be enough to help me make the squad for the Euros."

O'Neill said of McClean: "It's a sign of how well he has done that teams in the Premier League are actually doubling up on him. Blackburn (who beat Sunderland on Tuesday) are one of a number of teams who have noticed he is a dangerman."

Irish Independent