McCleary’s football career began with Oxford City, and he also spent time with Oxford United, Slough and Bromley before signing for Forest in January 2008. He made his Forest debut as an 87th minute substitute in a 1-0 defeat against Carlisle United on the 3rd March 2008. On the 5th April 2008 he was handed his first start in a 3-1 win against Cheltenham town, where he was also awarded the man of the match. Injuries limited the number of starts McCleary got for the following couple of seasons and it wasn’t until the 2011/12 season in which McCleary really announced his arrival as a Nottingham Forest player.
After returning from injury in December 2011, McCleary was instrumental in securing Forest’s survival in the Football League Championship, scoring nine goals. Four of which came in a high scoring away game to Leeds United at Elland road, where Forest won 7-3. These performances resulted in McCleary being named as the Football League Championship Player of the Month. He was also voted as Nottingham Forest’s player of the season by Forest supporters beating Joel Lynch and Chris Gunter into second and third respectively.
On 16th May 2012 it was announced that McCleary had turned down a new contract at Forest to sign a three year contract at Reading and in doing so fulfilling his dream of playing in the Premiership. McCleary’s impact from the bench on Saturday’s game against Stoke has earned the player many plaudits and he is in line to make his first Premier League start against Chelsea tonight.
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