Left winger McClean has been switched to the middle of the park in the second half of each of Sunderland’s last two Premier League outings against Spurs and Liverpool.
Martin O’Neill: “I thought he would give us a bit of physical strength in there, which we lack against other teams in the Premier League.
“But as to whether it is a long-term thing, I am not really sure about that.
“James is still learning his own position out wide, and it is a different issue going in there (to central midfield).
“In terms of his overall game, it will do him no harm at all.
“Even though it is only 15 yards infield, you get a very different picture – you see things another way.
“When you are playing out wide, they say the white line is your friend – nobody is going to come from behind the line to tackle you.
“John Robertson (O’Neill’s former Nottingham Forest team-mate and long-term assistant) used to say that was what he loved about playing there.
“The line was there for him, and you know where you are.
“When you are infield, there are players coming in from either side of you, from behind you and from in front of you.
“The second you miscontrol it, people are on top of you and suddenly you’ve lost the ball.”NEW SIGNING!
Sunderland have completed the signing of midfielder Alfred N'Diaye from Bursaspor for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year old has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light after completing his medical and agreeing personal terms.
N'Diaye, a France Under-21 international who started his career at Ligue 1 side Nancy, becomes Sunderland's first signing in the January transfer window.
Martin O'Neill: "Alfred is a strong, powerful young player and as such can offer us more strength in depth.
"He will give us options and I'm delighted that we have been able to bring him to the club."
N'Diaye signed for Bursaspor from Nancy last year for a fee reported to be 3 million euros (£2.5 million) and could be available for this Saturday's Premier League match against West Ham at the Stadium of Light, subject to international clearance.Sunderland Boss Was Not Doing A 'Big Sam'!
Martin O'Neill said he was not trying to make a point when he named only six players on the bench for the weekend's cup tie rather than seven.
Some reporters suggested the shortage of substitutes in the tie was flashing a message to owner Ellis Short in the January transfer window that reinforcements were needed just to field a full squad.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce admitted he did the same thing two weeks ago, but O'Neill insists the owner "knows full well we need players, I don't have to make the point".
Martin O’Neill: “It wasn’t a prank, it’s just the way things are.
“We don’t have the biggest squad, and we’re really stretched at the moment.”
"Stephane Sessegnon was due to be the seventh substitute, but he had to cry off before we boarded the plane, and we decided against just giving the shirt to some young player for the sake of it.
“We maybe could have called one of the younger players in, but there’s a danger that some young lad gets a shirt and then all of a sudden he thinks he’s part of the team.
“I don’t want that. I want the young players to earn that shirt, I really do.
“But don’t think that this was some sort of well-thought out masterplan – it was very late in the day when Sessegnon found he was too sore to come, and it became a bit of a problem.
“The fact is that we are short on bodies and we are going to do something about if we can – well, not if we can, we NEED to do something about it.
“I’ve had conversations with the owner and think I get on reasonably well with him.
“He’s well aware that we need to strengthen, and he wants to do something about it.”Sunderland Squad 2.Bardsley4.N'Diaye3.Rose5.Brown6.Cattermole7.Larsson8.Gardner9.Campbell10.Wickham11.McFadden12.Kilgallon13.Pickford14.Colback15.Vaughan16.O'Shea19.Bramble20.Westwood21.Johnson A22.Mignolet23.McClean24.Cuellar25.Saha26.Fletcher28.Sessegnon Sunderland Fixtures Saturday January 12 15:00 Premier League West Ham United (H)Tuesday January 15 19:45 FA Cup replay Bolton Wanderers (H) Saturday January 19 15:00 Premier League Wigan Athletic (A) Tuesday January 29 19:45 Premier League Swansea City(H)