Sport Soccer

Sunday 17 December 2017

£23m worth of Irish talent in the shop window

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

THE motivation for Ireland on Saturday is clear -- three points towards automatic qualification for Euro 2012.

For the majority of the players there is a sub-plot, however. It is a chance to remind potential employers of their ability going into an off-season which should be packed with Irish transfer activity.

Six starters are likely to be switching clubs in the coming months, and another three who could be involved are sure to be on the look-out.

Some of these players have been starved of first team activity this year, or line out for clubs who are out of the limelight. Therefore, the international stage offers a chance to boost their profile.

Here are the Irishmen who could be doing more packing later this summer after this Macedonia trip is out of the way.

Shane Long

Age: 24

Current Club: Reading

Weekly Wage: £20,000 approx

Valuation: £6m

Marco Tardelli delivered a strong endorsement to Long yesterday, stating that he could be a 'key player' in the English transfer market this summer. In other words, he expects an audition that could have a domino effect elsewhere. Reading conceded after Monday's play-off final loss that they will be losing the Tipperary man.

Now it's a case of finding the best possible price.

Wolves have already been linked with an £8m bid and, if more clubs get involved, then the asking price could be pushed up towards that level. Mick McCarthy paid £6m for Kevin Doyle and a similar figure to land Steven Fletcher from Burnley, and that's a reasonable barometer for what it takes to bring a top player from a Championship club to the top flight.

That said, if a club like Liverpool really want to compete, they have the ability to raise the bar to another level.

Robbie Keane

Age: 30

Current Club: Spurs

Weekly Wage: £65,000 approx

Valuation: £5m

With just one year left on his contract, the Irish skipper has gone on the record to state that Spurs will be looking to cash in. In reality, the main cost of taking on Keane will be the issue of agreeing a weekly wage rather than the actual fee.

Back in January, in negotiations with West Ham, his agent was looking for a long contract. Naturally, at this stage of his career, the Dubliner would like the security of a three-year deal, but it's unlikely he will get that at his current level of pay.

Don't be too surprised if his situation takes a while to resolve -- he predicted as much last week.

Shay Given

Age: 35

Current Club: Manchester City

Weekly Wage: £80,000

Valuation: £4m

A fine display against Scotland was a timely reminder that a goalkeeper of his quality shouldn't be spending a season watching from the sidelines.

Manchester City don't really need to sell, but now they are in the Champions League, and have the means to ensure they qualify on a regular basis, the hope is that they can abandon the worry associated with letting Given join another club who was a potential obstacle to that next leap.

Further speculation has linked the Donegal man with Spurs. It would make sense.

Sean St Ledger

Age: 26

Current Club: Preston

Weekly Wage: £20,000 approx

Valuation: £2m

After dropping to League One, Preston need to get St Ledger off the wage bill. He was valued at £4.5m two seasons ago; but there's no way the Deepdale club can really afford to play hardball now. The defender has struggled at club level this year -- a surprise given the overall quality of his performances for Ireland -- and his stock has probably fallen in the last 12 months.

He was attracted by a possible move to Celtic. Premier League interest seems to have cooled, yet if the asking price is fair, anything could happen.

Stephen Kelly

Age: 27

Current Club: Fulham

Weekly Wage: £15,000 approx

Valuation: £1.5m

Frustrating campaign for Kelly, who was ever-present with Birmingham at Premier League level a few years back, yet has lived the opposite existence with Fulham this term. He has barely got a look-in under Mark Hughes, so, it would make sense for the Dubliner to look elsewhere.

His versatility could be attractive to one of the top flight newcomers.

Darren O'Dea

Age: 24

Current Club: Celtic

Weekly Wage: £12,000 approx

Valuation: £1.5m

Said on Sunday that he needs to clarify his Celtic future with Neil Lennon, acknowledging that, for the sake of his career, he might have to leave the club he joined as a teenager.

Loan stints at Reading and Ipswich have underwhelmed, so the fact he has recently found favour with Trapattoni and is set to start on Saturday could prove significant. Big game required.

Paul McShane

Age: 25

Current Club: Hull

Weekly Wage: £25,000 approx

Valuation: £1.25m

A legacy of Hull's relegation from the Premier League was the contracts they brought down with them into the Championship, with McShane remaining on a top-flight wage.

He ended last season on loan at Barnsley and has admitted his prospects under current Hull manager Nigel Pearson are limited.

Still, he will hardly be in a rush to move on, unless a prospective employer is ready to offer a weekly wage in the same ballpark. A positive international performance would help his bargaining position -- especially a few more Hollywood flicks like he produced last Sunday.

Keith Treacy

Age: 22

Current Club: Preston

Weekly Wage: £8,000 approx

Valuation: £1.25m

Expects to move on from Preston after their relegation and it's believed that Burnley have already had an £800,000 bid rejected because it failed to meet the asking price. Considering he was an £170,000 purchase, Preston could hardly be looking for any more than £1m. Sure to find a suitor in the Championship.

Kevin Kilbane

Age: 34

Current Club: Hull

Weekly Wage: £13,000

Valuation: £500,000

Halved his wage at Hull to extend his contract by a year, and then joined Huddersfield on loan in January. Wanted to join the Terriers permanently and may yet go down that route, despite their failure in Sunday's League One play-off final. His performances there have been received positively, so it's possible that some Championship managers might be tempted to give the veteran another whirl.

Irish Independent

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