‘It’s a question I get asked quite a lot’ – McLean hoping to earn central City role
Kenny McLean is hoping he can play a central role in Norwich City’s promotion push, after his return to full fitness.
The ankle injury suffered by the Scotland international midfielder just three matches into his Canaries career has left supporters wondering where the former Aberdeen man will fit into Daniel Farke’s high-flying team.
McLean believes his best form has been in a central position, having played in one of the deep-lying midfield roles during his comeback against Portsmouth in the FA Cup earlier this month.
“I think centrally is where I prefer,” he said. “The boss played me everywhere during pre-season.
“It’s a question I get asked quite a lot and I don’t actually have one answer for it, which is a good thing I suppose because when you’ve got that versatility you can be used in a number of different positions. So it’s good for me and it’s good for the boss.
“But I would say I would affect the game more in a central position. Last season for Aberdeen I played deeper, which I enjoyed because I got a lot of the ball. But in the second half of the season I probably had my best period when I played the number 10 role. I got a few goals and was involved in a lot of the goals up there, so hopefully I can bring that to this team.
“Whenever I get in the team I just need to look to try and stay there.”
The 27-year-old realises he faces plenty of competition for a central role though, with Mario Vrancic and Tom Trybull playing well in the deeper roles, and both Alex Tettey and Mo Leitner closing on a return to fitness ahead of Saturday’s trip to league leaders Leeds, with Marco Stiepermann, Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia all central attacking midfield options as well.
“It’s a great headache that the boss has got,” the Scot added, speaking to City’s matchday programme. “Everybody is working so hard during the week to get that jersey and right now the boys who have got one are doing their jobs.
“It’s just about keeping yourself ready and keeping the boys in the team on their toes. You know if they dip in form, you’ve got to be there to step in but at the same time, you want the team to be doing well. I feel right now I’m ready to take my chance, whenever it will be.”
McLean scored 11 goals and was credited with six assists during 47 matches for Aberdeen last season, staying with the Dons on loan for the second half of the campaign after signing for Norwich in a deal reportedly worth an initial £150,000, as he only had six months remaining on his contract.
And while he hasn’t been able to play too much yet, after three months out with an ankle injury, the former St Mirren man believes his style fits with the approach of City head coach Daniel Farke.
“It does differ a bit because when I was playing in Scotland, it wasn’t pretty at times. It was a tough league and a bit of a slog at times,” he continued.
“You spent a lot of your time grinding out results but here, the way we play is perfect for me and perfect for the boys that are here.
“The boss has brought people in that he trusts and he knows what we’re all about. Everybody is just pulling in the right direction, everybody knows the way we want to play and we’re winning games by playing well.
“And even at times, we’ve shown we can win ugly as well which is a great tool to have. Outsiders looking in will tell you the way we are playing football is the way to do it.”