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O'Donovan plots sunderland exit

IRELAND B cap Roy O'Donovan has been offered the chance to escape from Sunderland and kick-start his career with League One side Hartlepool United.

O'Donovan's contract with Sunderland is up in the summer and Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has made it clear that the 24-year-old has no future at the Stadium of Light, so the winger has opted to go on trial with Hartlepool, with a view to signing a permanent deal. Last month Sunderland allowed another of their Irish forwards, Daryl Murphy, leave on loan and he has since scored three goals in three games for Ipswich Town.

O'Donovan has made 17 Premier League appearances for Sunderland since Roy Keane took him from Cork City to Sunderland in a €500,000 deal in 2007, but due to injury and loan spells he has not played for the Black Cats since May 2008. He was on loan to Southend United earlier this season and also had spells on loan with Blackpool and Dundee United.


"We've watched him quite a few times in the Sunderland reserves and also had discussions with Steve Bruce and Eric Black. They've made it known he could be available to us and we've brought him in for training to see how it goes. We'll see what happens here and we'll take it one step at a time," said Hartlepool manager Chris Turner.

United already have three former Cork players on the books, with Joe Gamble, Denis Behan and Leon McSweeney.

Meanwhile, Steve Finnan is ready to return to the Portsmouth side for their vital game at home to Stoke tomorrow.

He missed last week's win over Southampton with a hamstring injury but Pompey first-team coach Paul Groves expects Finnan to be back for tomorrow's crucial Fratton Park fixture.

"Steve was very close to playing against Southampton, real touch and go, but we decided the best thing for him to do was sit out that one," Groves said.

"He's had a slight tight groin and probably the weekend came around too quickly for him. "ith all the games we've had, that's been inevitable.

"Sometimes you give players until the last minute to try to give them every possible chance you've got.

"Some make it, some don't - but we expect Steve to be available tomorrow."

Ireland hopeful Jonathan Walters has apologies to Ipswich Town fans after their dismal 3-1 league defeat to bottom side Peterborough United in midweek.

"I need to apologise to our fans on behalf of the players. They gave us great support as usual on Tuesday and we let them down," said B cap Walters.


"Speaking as player spokesman we'll be doing everything in our power to put things right. We've got the capacity in our side to do well but the table doesn't lie and we're only got ourselves to blame.

"We've been near the bottom all season and we've got to deal with that. That's what we're paid to do. We've got to stay positive and I believe we have enough quality and character in the squad that we can get away from where we are."