Sunday 23 July 2017

Holidays on hold for 33 Irish players placed on PFA unattached list

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IT'S NOT all sun, sea and sand for professional footballers this summer.

Wayne Rooney may be tweeting pictures of himself, Andy Carroll and Gary McAllister chilling by the pool, sipping cocktails and enjoying life, but for many this is a time of year filled with uncertainty.

Each year, the Professional Footballers Association releases a list of players who are out of contract and available, and 33 of those on the latest list are Irish.

What awaits them is a series of endless phone calls to agents, false dawns and sleepless nights. Some will find clubs easily, others will be sweating it out on deadline day. The odd one will head abroad, while others will look for home and the Airtricity League.

Unlike goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who can go on holiday with a free transfer to Sunderland already secured, these players will have to work hard for next season's money.

With Cillian Sheridan being made available by CSKA Sofia, there are now 11 internationals with 97 Irish caps between them going for nothing this summer.

Age: 28

Caps: 27

Released by: Blackpool

At least £12m has exchanged hands over the years for the cause celebre of so many pundits and Ireland fans, but he is now available for nothing.

Ian Holloway called for the Crumlin native when he looked set to lose Charlie Adam on transfer deadline day, but when the Scot ended up staying at Bloomfield Road the new man found himself consigned to the bench.

Reid only played five times for the Tangerines, with just two starts, as his dramatic fall from grace continued.

It was only the start of the 2009/10 season that he was in tip-top shape and starring for Steve Bruce's Sunderland, but a series of hamstring injuries began a spiral that sees him unattached this summer.

The next move will be crucial for the attacking midfielder, who may find himself out of the top flight. He could end up where he first started at Nottingham Forest under new manager Steve McClaren.

Lee Carsley



Age: 35

Caps: 38

Released by: Coventry

The experienced midfielder's second spell with Coventry City came to an end last month with no new contract in the offing.

At 35, the Birmingham native's best years may be behind him, but he was named captain by Aidy Boothroyd when he arrived on a free transfer and played 25 times for the midlanders. It's not that long ago that there were concerted calls for Giovanni Trapattoni to recall the player, while Everton did everything they could to keep him when he left Goodison Park to join Birmingham City in 2008.

A player who has earned £7.8m in transfer fees for the clubs he has played for might drop down a level, but his vast experience should see him picked up.

Joe Murphy

Age: 29

Caps: 2

Released by: Scunthorpe

It hasn't been a good few weeks for Joe Murphy, who missed out on the end of the season for both club and country.

In doing so, he watched from the sideline as Scunthorpe were relegated and David Forde impressed for Ireland against Italy to stake a claim for the third goalkeeping spot in Trapattoni's squad.

After five years, the club have released him, allowing him an opportunity to stay in the Championship and he may profit from Westwood's move to Sunderland as Coventry are believed to be interested.

Jonathan Douglas

Age: 29

Caps: 8

Released by: Swindon Town

As one of Swindon's highest earners, Monaghan man Douglas was allowed to leave at the end of the season.

Fans appear keen for him to return, but it remains to be seen if new manager Paolo di Canio will want him back at the County Ground, where he has been since 2009.

Formerly of Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United, the midfielder won his caps between 2004 and '07, making his first competitive start against the Czech Republic in '06.

Joey O'Brien

Age: 25

Caps: 3

Released by: Bolton Wanderers

Versatile O'Brien made a promising start to life at Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce, but despite making 50 appearances for the club, the Dubliner has faded from the first-team scene.

He spent part of last season on loan with Sheffield Wednesday, playing just four times, but was deemed surplus to requirements by Owen Coyle. His career is in need of a major kickstart.

Stephen O'Halloran

Age: 23

Caps: 2

Released by: Coventry City

Touted as a shining light of the infamous Steve Staunton-led tour to the USA, the former Aston Villa left-back has been plagued by injury since, twice doing his cruciate.

He played 13 times for Coventry last season, but couldn't nail down a first team place. At 23, he is worth a look for Championship clubs but his knee injuries could prevent the fulfilment of his potential.

Alan Quinn

Age: 32

Caps: 8

Released by: Ipswich

No surprise that Quinn was deemed surplus to requirements at Portman Road, where he last played in February of 2010.

One of 10 players released by the Suffolk club, Quinn has a proven record in the Championship but at 32 may need to drop down to find a club.

Thomas Butler

Age: 30

Caps: 2

Released by: Swansea City

Butler may yet get into the Premier League with Swansea as he is currently in talks about a one-year extension, but the midfielder -- capped twice by Mick McCarthy -- is available and has plenty of experience in the lower leagues.

He didn't play any games last season for the Welsh club, where he has been since 2006.

Joe Gamble

Age: 29

Caps: 2

Released by: Hartlepool United

May be on his way back to Cork City where he was capped twice in 2007 on the US tour. After the financial turmoil on Leeside he joined Hartlepool in January 2010, but after 32 appearances and three goals he has been released by the north-east club.

Alan Bennett

Age: 29

Caps: 2

Released by: Wycombe Wanderers

Another whose caps came on the US tour, former Cork defender Bennett joined Wycombe last season and played 24 times, but he failed to impress and was released.

Cillian Sheridan

Age: 22

Caps: 3

Available from: CSKA Sofia



The former Celtic striker isn't on the list, but financial difficulties at Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia mean that they are looking to offload the Cavan man.

As a result, he has headed across the Atlantic to the USA where he impressed in a trial game for the Seattle Sounders last week.

Irish Independent

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