Unemployed League of Ireland players will get to try their luck in Scandinavia under a new scheme which could also see players from Norway and Finland attempt to make the grade over here.
Next month, for the sixth year in a row, a team of out-of-contract payers from Ireland will head to Oslo to play in a series of trial games, an indoor tournament aimed at giving a platform to club-less players in front of scouts and managers from (mainly)the Nordic countries.
The squad, which assembled in Dublin yesterday under the supervision of manager Aidan Price and assistant Stephen Rice, will spend the next three weeks training at FAI HQ with input from Roy Keane, who has promised to attend part of the training camp and give his insight to players at a crossroads.
LOI players, like Sligo Rovers stalwart Gavin Peers, dominate the squad but Irish boys back from the UK such as Jack Tuite (Derby) and Cody Mulhall (Hibs) are also training. Arranged by the players' union in Ireland (PFAI) but funded by the body for player unions (FIFPRO), the trip has helped a handful of Irish footballers earn contracts abroad. The 2016 tournament, played in Oslo on January 14th, will have a new feature as coaches from five LOI clubs will also travel, and those Irish clubs will each take on trial at least one player from a Scandinavian league, while in exchange clubs from participating leagues in Norway, Finland and Sweden will also undertake to bring on trial an Irish footballer, with expenses met by FIFPRO.
"It costs €10,000 to run the winter training course but it's money well spent," said PFAI general secretary Stephen McGuinness, hopeful of an input from Ireland's assistant manager.
"We spoke to Roy Keane last week and he is eager to do it, he approached us about it last year where he said he'd like to come up and speak to the players, see if he can help out in any way."