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Feely aiming to hit heights at Valley

FORMER Bohemians defender Kevin Feely has already swapped the quiet charms of his Kildare home for the bright lights of London, and the 20-year-old has now set his sights on making it in the Championship with Charlton Athletic.

The January transfer window is bound to have quite a lot of Irish involvement.

A number of League of Ireland players are already on trial with clubs across the water, and players like Sean Maguire (Waterford), Kevin Dawson (Shelbourne), Ryan Brennan (Drogheda), Stephen McLaughlin and Barry McNamee (Derry City) are being screened by British teams.

Bohs man Feely is the first player from the league here to secure a contract with a foreign club since the end of the 2012 season, as the Gyspies confirmed this week the club had agreed a deal with Charlton to sell the player, though international transfer regulations mean that Feely won't officially become an Addicks player until January 1.

But the Kildare lad has already taken the first step by moving over to London, his new home since last Sunday, as he tries to get his fitness up to a level where he can force his way into the plans of Charlton boss Chris Powell.

"It's a big step, going from the league at home to the Championship, but I have had a bit of time at the club already and I certainly feel I can make an impact in the first team here before the end of the season," Feely told the Evening Herald.

"Because the deal can't officially go through until the New Year, I can't play in proper matches, even reserve games over here yet. But I will work hard on my fitness in the next month and make sure that I am ready to go in January.

"It's going to be hard to make it into the first team over here but I know it can be done. You had someone like Keith Fahey, who came from St Pat's and went straight into the first team at Birmingham without any bother, so I'd be hoping to follow the example of someone like Keith," added Feely, who made a big impression at Bohs last term, his debut season in the League of Ireland.

"I have been training with the U21 squad since I moved over last week and I can see that it is a high standard but I feel I can get there. I think the big difference between the league at home and the Championship in England is the fitness and the pace of the game. Once I can get my fitness up to their level I am sure the rest will come.

"I know I won't walk into the first team here but I feel I can at least get into the first-team squad, hopefully get a few appearances before the end of the season and then see what happens next season."

His form in the Bohs defence sparked interest from England, and Charlton, Stoke City and Peterborough United all had him over on trials while Everton were also keeping tabs on the player - Toffees manager David Moyes is an old team-mate of Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan - though the only formal offer came from Charlton.

"It's a relief to have it sorted," says Feely, who has signed a two-year deal. "I had been on a lot of trials but nothing concrete was happening in terms of contracts so when Charlton said they had a deal to offer me, I was glad to sign it and make the move.

"It's a big move, going from Kildare to somewhere like London. The club have sorted me out accommodation with a couple of lads from the U21 team and I don't have a car yet so it's not that easy to get around, but I will find my feet in the next few weeks," added Feely, who admits that the move to Charlton has forced him to shelve one of his ambitions - winning a Leinster title with his native county.

"I really enjoyed playing Gaelic, but that's in the past for now," says the former Kildare minor star, who had been on the fringes of the county senior panel for the 2012 championship season before he opted to concentrate on his career with Bohs.

"I achieved all I could at this stage, I won things with my club and got to play for the county minors.

"It's nice to leave the GAA on a good note and, who knows, I could be back in the Kildare shirt some day.

"I will still be watching the lads next season and I hope 2013 is the year they go on and win the Leinster title."