The Republic of Ireland international scored in Sunderland's comprehensive 3-0 League Cup victory over Reading and O'Neill praised the winger's contribution
McClean opened the scoring in the Black Cats' 3-0 Capital One Cup quarter final victory over Reading on Tuesday December 11 and O'Neill has suggested that the 23-year-old is beginning to emulate the form that saw him score five league goals in 23 league appearances last season.
"It was great to score early," O'Neill told safc.com. "I thought there were signs that James [McClean] is returning to the form we’ve seen from him before."
He added: "It was a great performance, very spirited. We scored three good goals and we won the game convincingly.
"The early goal was very important because recently we’ve been chasing games and sometimes we’ve given ourselves mountains to climb," said the Sunderland boss.