Hoops plan to land imports

By Aidan Fitzmaurice

PAT FENLON will look outside of Ireland for fresh talent to improve his Shamrock Rovers squad for next season.

The Hoops reported back for their first day of pre-season training yesterday and Fenlon's side will step up their programme next week, with the first pre-season friendly planned for the end of the month.

Their major signings of the off-season such as Keith Fahey, Danny North, Gavin Brennan and Dave Webster are already bedding in but Fenlon has also been impressed by Brandon Miele, the Ireland U19 cap signed from Newcastle United.

The Rovers boss is in the market for more players but is looking at imports.

"We still need two or three players but we are looking outside of the country at the moment as there's not much left here in terms of players you want," Fenlon told The Herald.

"We will have people coming in from abroad in the next week or two and I would hope to make a signing next week. We're looking to Europe and to Britain, we have good contacts and I will use any avenues I can to get good players in.

"We tried to get the players we wanted from within Ireland, and we tried to keep the players we wanted.

"We signed some of our targets but missed out on others, and we did lose one or two who we wanted to keep but who got better offers elsewhere. So we have to look outside of Ireland and we will see what comes of it," says Fenlon.

"I am happy with the midfeld we have so the priority is up front and at the back."

While the arrival of Fahey from rivals St Patrick's Athletic was one of the major transfer deals of the off-season, Cork City have since made a marquee signing of their own with the capture of ex-Ireland man Liam Miller, and Fenlon is pleased to see players of that quality come into the league.

The early-season battle in the league between Rovers and Cork City could could see a midfield battle between four ex-Ireland internationals (Keith Fahey, Stephen McPhail, Colin Healy and Miller) and for Fenlon, it's a positive.

"There are good players in the league at the moment and the ones who are coming home tend to be good pros, who will help other players and bring the league on," he added.

"We have a lot of young lads in the squad and older pros can teach them good habits, the right things to do off the park.

"I was lucky to have lads like Alan Moore and Curtis Fleming at Shelbourne, and someone like Liam Miller will only add to the league.

"Liam is a good player and the people at Hibs raved about him from Liam's time there. The more quality players like that in the league, the better overall."

Meanwhile, Fenlon says that Celtic will keep tabs on young Rovers man Cian Kavanagh after he impressed on trial last week. "They want him to work on his fitness but they will keep tabs on him," he says.