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Transfer Hunt on for boys in green

NOEL HUNT will kick off a series of Irish transfer moves when he completes his switch to Leeds United in the coming days – but some of his compatriots can only hope that their agents can get busy as clubs in England and Scotland prepare to return for pre-season training.

So far this summer, 14 Republic of Ireland players have already secured new employers for themselves, from senior internationals (Darren Randolph moving from Motherwell to Birmingham City, Daryl Murphy making a permanent move to Ipswich) to a high-profile Scottish deal (Dubliner Jon Daly joining Rangers) to youngsters hoping to see their careers progress (highly-rated Dubliner Joe Gorman hooking up with Terry Butcher at Inverness).

But for a host of other Irishmen, the summer of 2013 will be a nervous one. Senior players like Shay Given, Stephen Ward and Kevin Doyle are still under contract with their clubs and while they do need to move on for the sake of their careers, they at least have the luxury of a contract to look forward to for the next 12 months.


Others are not in the same boat as veterans (Richard Dunne, Ian Harte, Stephen Hunt, Stephen McPhail, Rory Delap), ex-internationals now in the lower leagues (Stephen Elliott, Martin Rowlands, Peter Murphy) and youngsters (Burnley's Adam Evans and West Ham man Eoin Wearen) are all officially out of work and looking for new clubs.

Giovanni Trapattoni earlier this month put up a challenge to player agents as he expressed his hopes that the advisers to James McCarthy and Jeff Hendrick do all they can to make sure that those two players are playing Premier League football next season.

McCarthy is bound to be in demand and his immediate future will be sorted out on the basis of whether a Premier League club is willing to meet Wigan's valuation of the midfielder.

Same with Doyle at Wolves, the club do not honestly expect the Wexford man and Ward to play in League One next season, but moves for the pair will only come through if a club from a higher division is willing to pay up for a transfer fee and also meet the players' demands on wages.

Given has already stated his desire to leave Aston Villa so he can get first-team football, and it's the same story for Sean St Ledger with Leicester City, while Bristol City – relegated to the third tier like Wolves – will expect Ireland man Greg Cunningham to move on.

But in terms of an intense race to sign Irish players, it's likely that only midfielder McCarthy and defender Alex Pearce (who has been offered a new deal by Reading while being courted by Premier League clubs) will be in real demand over the summer.

Keith Fahey will not be short of offers, but the midfielder, let go by Birmingham City as they stated they could not afford to meet his wage demands, may have to settle for a Championship club even though Norwich City were linked with Fahey. A move is also on the cards for Dubliner Chris McCann, who has left Burnley after a 10-year stint there and he could end up at Wigan should McCarthy move on. With Dunne already gone from Aston Villa and Given expected to leave, there could be more Irish activity at the club in the coming weeks.

Youngsters Graham Burke, Derrick Williams, Mikey Drennan and Samir Carruthers have all been offered new contracts by Paul Lambert, but it's already been reported that Waterford lad Williams will snub that offer and move on.

And down the food chain, there's proof that there is still some life in the old dogs, as David Connolly – now 36 – has signed up for another season with Portsmouth in League Two.