"We had to take him away from running" - Stephen Kenny on James McClean's extra training 7 months ago

"We had to take him away from running" - Stephen Kenny on James McClean's extra training

James McClean is probably fed up hearing about his passion now.

That's just baseline James McClean - that's just what props up everything else in every single game. If he's not on it like he can be, he'll still beat anyone for will and desire. As a man once said, the only thing you're in control of is your effort and McClean's never fluctuates.

The Derry native has spoken before about wanting people to appreciate what else he can do as a footballer outside of running hard and digging deeper than everyone and he has since gone about doing that by topping the scoring charts for Ireland and hammering home a right-footed half volley to send the country to a World Cup playoff.

He might've had a lot of work to do when he was younger but he did that work and he improved so much that, by the time Stephen Kenny picked him up for Derry City, it wasn't the rawness or the fire he was attracted to. It was the tricky winger and what he could do on the ball.

So, inevitably, when the Dundalk manager is asked about hard tackles back in McClean's Derry days, he saw it very differently. He just saw the useful player who was still being overlooked elsewhere - but, of course, he would overcome that.

"He was just a skillful left winger who could take people on. He had pace - he got up and down the left, initially," Kenny told SportsJOE.

"There were players from his school team and players from his class who were picked for Northern Ireland Schoolboys - and some of his friends - and James wasn't picked at that stage.

"But, to me, on the evidence that I could see, he was infinitely more talented. I thought he was quite exciting when I saw him."

There  was, of course, still that hunger which underpinned everything the Irish international did. Sometimes though, he wanted it so much that the management had to intervene and tell him to row back on how much extra training he was doing.

"James really loved the game, you could see he loved it," the Dubliner explained.

"He had the right attitude to training, he was very receptive to any sort of advice. He needed to practice crossing so he practiced crossing - religiously really.

"He had great commitment to practice.

"Then away from football, he loved to run and would often take off on the roads so much so that we had to take him away from that. We had to put the reins on him because he wanted to just run. Running on hard surfaces is not always the best for football.

"But he wanted to be the best he could be."