10 Irish players who need to make a move
Transfer window can't come quick enough for some, writes Daniel McDonnell
DESPITE his recent pay cut, Giovanni Trapattoni has plenty of reasons to look forward to the January sales.
From his base in Milan, the Italian must be alarmed at the number of Irish players who have endured frustrating seasons at club level.
With good news stories thin on the ground, there's a plethora of players from these shores who need the transfer window to reopen so they can secure a change of employers. From senior internationals collecting dust on the bench to promising talents who need to discover maturity, here are 10 Irishmen who should be figuring on the Sky Sports News ticker in the New Year.
Surprise, surprise. It's inevitable that Keane will be on his way in January. He is rotting away on the bench at Spurs and looked noticeably ring-rusty when he linked up with the Irish squad for two important Euro 2012 qualifiers in October.
Still has plenty to offer a club in the lower rungs of the Premier League and will have his pick of suitors. Scotland and the USA have been mentioned as possible destinations, but if Keane (pictured right) retains any ambition, then he should accept the likelihood of a pay cut and plump for one of the top-flight English options on the table.
Another with an obvious need to move clubs, with Roberto Mancini's preference for Joe Hart set in stone from August. Restricted to a Carling Cup outing and meaningless Europa League group games, it is a humiliating situation for a top goalkeeper who moved to Manchester City in search of medals.
Unfortunately, he's tied to a contract, which means the club can decide if he is allowed move on or not. Mancini appears to be wavering in this regard; he would be crucified if Hart sustained serious injury and City were left short again.
Always selected by Giovanni Trapattoni when available for competitive games, Whelan doesn't enjoy that certainty under the stewardship of Tony Pulis. The Dubliner has stressed a desire to play regularly, and the Stoke manager respects his wish.
However, it's possible that he may have to drop down a division if offers from the Premier League are thin on the ground.
Trapattoni may or may not have said that Gibson needs to leave Manchester United to toughen up -- his version of English is many things to many people. Considering Gibson is highly rated by Alex Ferguson, he would be mad to agitate for a move away from Old Trafford.
Nevertheless, a loan stint would be beneficial to his development.
Injuries have prevented Gibson from figuring in Carling Cup ties and Champions League dead rubbers. Reported interest from Aston Villa in a temporary switch is an interesting turn of events.
Sean St Ledger
It's been a grim time for St Ledger at club level, with Preston in the Championship relegation zone and the Irish defender woefully out of form -- he was even dropped to the bench in recent weeks.
Considering he is on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs due to his displays in the green jersey, it's a disappointing situation.
Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.
In the second half of last season, Everton sent Seamus Coleman to Blackpool and it was the making of him. They will be hoping for a similar outcome if they finally allow Duffy to depart on loan in the New Year.
He was wanted by Barnsley, Leeds and Preston this autumn, but Everton blocked a move to the former when the Derry lad was ready to go.
Hopefully, they will allow the centre-half to further his education at Championship level in January; he can only learn so much in reserve football.
His summer switch to Aston Villa has proved to be a disaster, and the writing was on the wall when his work rate was publicly criticised by Gerard Houllier. It's been a turbulent couple of seasons for the man who was once confident enough with his situation at Manchester City to express the wish that a stand would be named after him one day. Needs to get his confidence back, and a switch to Celtic would be attractive to him on that basis.
Seems certain to leave Sunderland on a permanent basis. A loan spell at Sheffield United was set to be followed up by a firm offer, with indications that Gary Speed might have secured his services for £500,000.
Alas, Speed's departure from Bramall Lane to take the Welsh job places their interest in jeopardy. Either way, Reid is 28 now and must find a settled home -- although Trapattoni won't be too bothered by his plight.
The forgotten man of Irish football who has suffered a downturn in fortunes since securing a big move to Newcastle. He failed to impress Trapattoni in last summer's training camp and dropped out of the squad before injury made the first half of this season a write-off.
Chris Hughton had faith in Best but after his unfortunate departure, the 24-year-old is in limbo. Requires a move to get his career back on track.
Refusing to sign a new deal at Coventry, and therefore has the 'contract rebel' label attached. Current arrangement expires at end of the season, and Celtic are lingering, possibly ready to thrash out a pre-contract handshake with a view to a summer move.
City boss Aidy Boothroyd says there is no way that Coventry will succumb to the temptation to cash in now. But it won't be his decision. Westwood may as well start packing his bags.