McLean relishes heat of battle in midfield engine room
Feb 6 2013
by Paul Behan, Paisley Daily Express
Kenny McLean reckons he’ll have to work his socks off for the rest of the season ... as competition for places in St Mirren’s midfield engine room really heats up.
The 21-year-old midfielder played a key role for the Buddies in the first half of the campaign but is under pressure from the emergence of teenage prodigy John McGinn and the arrival of loan star Conor Newton from Newcastle United.
To make life more difficult for McLean, he suffered a frustrating month in January as he recovered from knee surgery.
And, although he returned to the team for last week’s SPL win against Inverness Caley Thistle, he failed to make the squad for the Scottish Cup win against St Johnstone at the weekend.
Now McLean is eager to show Buddies boss Danny Lennon that he’s ready for a run of games in the first team.
He told Express Sports: “I always knew it was going to be tough getting back into the team because we have strength in depth in midfield.
“Look at John McGinn. He’s been like a new signing with the way he’s come into the side in the last few months – and he’s only going to get better.
“There’s also Conor Newton. He’s a great guy and has done a fantastic job so far.
“With the quality he has, I’ve no doubt that he’ll be a future star at Newcastle.
“It’s more difficult to stake a claim for a place in the team with quality players like them about but I’m up for the challenge.
“We all know that competition for places is good for the team and good for the squad.”
McLean was linked with a move to the English Championship during the January transfer window but Lennon is delighted that the player is still a Saint.
“We have good quality players in the middle of the park and that’s a very pleasant situation to be in,” said Lennon. “Every single one of them will have a part to play between now and the end of the season.
“It’s great that Kenny is coming back to fitness.
“He had a part to play last week, with his 70 minutes against Inverness, and we now have a situation where, in midfield, we have a few permutations.
“It’s a case of ‘either/or’ and, as a manager, that’s exactly what you want.”