Sunday 17 February 2019

Clock ticking for inactive Irish players who badly need a change of scenery

 

James McCarthy. Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
James McCarthy. Photo: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The transfer window closes next Thursday and it's been quite a busy January for Irish players, albeit largely below the radar.

Alan Judge left Brentford for Ipswich, while Anthony Pilkington has dropped from Cardiff to Wigan.

The well-regarded centre-half Jimmy Dunne moved on loan to Sunderland after spending the first half of the season at Hearts.

Young Galwegian Conor Shaughnessy has left Leeds on loan to take his place at Hearts.

Preston's ex-League of Ireland contingent are enduring mixed fortunes, but they swooped down to League One to snap up ex-Irish underage international Joe Rafferty from Rochdale.

There could still be more Irish activity in the next week, however, and there are some higher-profile names that need to address their position.

James McCarthy

It's time for the Everton midfielder to become a footballer again and while doubts surround the future of yet another Toffees boss, the percentage call for the Glaswegian is to go somewhere he is sure to play for the remainder of this season.

That might even entail a drop to Championship level. West Brom are long-term admirers challenging for promotion and getting back into the winning groove could be good for him. If Ireland do lose out on Declan Rice, he will be important for Mick McCarthy. Marco Silva has suggested that this evening's FA Cup tie with Millwall might result in some game time.

Scott Hogan

Dean Smith's appointment at Aston Villa offered Hogan the opportunity to work with a manager who knew his strengths well from their time together at Brentford.

However, the Irish recruit has lost the goalscoring touch since his big-money switch and the argument was that Steve Bruce's style of play did not suit the fox in the box.

Alas, he has fired blanks under Smith and is behind fan-favourite Tammy Abraham in the pecking order. He must explore his options.

David Meyler

The tough-tackling midfielder simply has to move for the sake of his career; it's blindingly obvious.

In truth, it's been a pretty poor year for the Irish contingent at Reading with Paul McShane and John O'Shea also spending periods watching an underperforming side fall into a serious relegation battle.

Meyler only joined in the summer but has already been told he doesn't have a future at the club.

The 29-year-old Corkman will be out of the international equation unless he makes a move before the close of the window.

Andy Boyle

The defender is back at Preston after a loan spell at Dundee.

In truth, his days at Deepdale were numbered once Simon Grayson left the club. Alex Neil was looking for something different in the centre of defence.

He's unlikely to receive a Preston-sized contract at his next club, yet it seems likely that the club will look to reach a settlement in this window rather than allowing the Dubliner to run down his contract until the summer.

Boyle has suitors in Scotland but could also return to Dundalk - Kevin O'Connor is on the way back to Cork City having failed to break through.

Graham Burke

Neil did sign Burke from Shamrock Rovers last summer, yet it always seemed like a strange fit given that the creative Dubliner is most at home as a number 10.

Preston prefer a more industrious player in that position and there were murmurs from early on that Burke would primarily be used as a wide option in a front three. That was never going to suit his strengths.

Burke did get a brief run in the side coming up to the January transfer window but Preston have recruited in that department since then so he will have to examine loan moves.

Ryan Manning

The creative midfielder starred for QPR two seasons ago but has found himself on the periphery in the intervening period and a loan move to Rotherham in the summer made sense as it gave him the platform to shine at Championship level. However, Manning was recalled in January after doing reasonably well and now finds himself back on the bench at Loftus Road.

Perhaps Steve McClaren sees him in his short-term plans but the Irish U-21 international should be seeking guarantees.

Rob Elliot

The forgotten man of the Irish Premier League contingent as he is well down the pecking order at Newcastle and not in Rafa Benitez's plans.

It has been suggested that he's waiting to see how things play out with the manager but it's a wasted year. Ireland are very much reliant on Darren Randolph's well-being at the moment, although Keiren Westwood has returned from the Sheffield Wednesday wilderness.

Irish Independent

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