Sunderland starlet has impressed since making the switch across the channel and Goal.com Ireland profiles five more young Irish players who could soon be making the moveANALYSIS
By Ryan Kelly
Having gone from League of Ireland First Division novice to a senior Ireland international in the space of just under two years, James McClean is a shining testimony of the talent that exists in Irish domestic leagues.
With the number of League of Ireland success stories gradually growing, we look at five players who could possibly follow in McClean's example and make the short move across the channel.
|Stephen McLaughlin – Derry City
Stephen McLaughlin, 21, has had big boots to fill on Derry City's left wing since the departure of James McClean to Sunderland. The Donegal lad has committed himself impressively to the task, earning recognition from clubs such as Burnley and Newcastle United despite the season only being in its infancy.
Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Noel King was among the spectators during Derry's recent Setanta Sports Cup victory at Shamrock Rovers and it is thought that McLaughlin was one of the players on his radar.
|Aaron Greene – Shamrock Rovers
Another of those thought to have caught King's eye during Derry's cup victory over Shamrock Rovers was 21-year old Dubliner, Aaron Greene.
Already the recipient of three U21 caps for Ireland, the former Sligo Rovers forward has hit the ground running since signing for the Hoops after previous stints at Galway United and Bohemians.
With former Shamrock Rovers players Karl Sheppard and Enda Stevens signing for Reading and Aston Villa respectively, Greene is sure to catch the attention of cross-channel clubs should he continue his early season form.
|Chris Forrester – St Patrick's Athletic
At only 19 years of age, St Patrick's Athletic winger Chris Forrester has relatively little experience but what he lacks in that department he makes up for with bagfuls of confidence.
The Dubliner showed this and more when he scored a couple of deftly taken goals against league champions Shamrock Rovers in the 5-1 romp inflicted on the champions by Pat's.
If Forrester can remain injury free for the rest of the season, perhaps the former Bohemians player will rekindle some of the interest that was already shown in him by Wolves and Watford a season ago.
|Patrick McEleney – Derry City
Like many before him, Patrick McEleney made the move across the water early, joining Sunderland at 17. He returned to his hometown club in 2010 where he has excelled for the Candystripes.
An Ireland U19 international, McEleney is a skillful player with an eye for a pass as well as a goal. The 19-year0old's influential displays for Derry have drawn attention from Premier League high fliers Newcastle as well as Championship outfit Burnley.
He could very well be the next young player to be dispatched from the Brandywell conveyor belt.
|Ryan Brennan – Drogheda United
One of the quartet of footballing Brennan brothers, Ryan, 20, is the youngest of the lot and has been in terrific form for his hometown club Drogheda United this season.
Playing alongside his siblings Sean and Gavin the midfielder has masterminded the defeats of some of the finest teams in the division and helping to propel the Louth team into the higher reaches of the League of Ireland Premier Division.
A younger brother of former Peterborough United and current Shamrock Rovers winger Killian Brennan, Ryan is sure to attract attention if he can maintain his form throughout the season.