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Irish players set for Scandinavian trials

EIGHT players with League of Ireland winners' medals will travel to Norway this week seeking new employment in Scandinavia.

Teams from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Ireland will lock horns in an 11-a-side indoor tournament in Oslo on Friday, with approximately 120 scouts from the region expected to be in attendance.

The PFAI have been preparing the out-of-work players for the tournament, which is being organised in conjunction with FIFPRO, the world players' union.

Former Shelbourne and St Patrick's Athletic striker Liam Kelly is the manager of the team and the players have been training together since the beginning of December.

The Irish squad is somewhat depleted after a number of intended participants withdrew. Conor Powell has joined Colchester, Shaun Williams is in discussions with Celtic, while Greg Bolger and Jason McGuinness are on the verge of joining Sporting Fingal.

In addition, the decision was made to leave out the contracted players at Bohemians who are in dispute with the Gypsies.

Striker Eamonn Zayed, most recently with Sporting Fingal, is in Saudi Arabia this week for talks with a couple of clubs, but he is expected home in time to make the trip to Oslo.

Kelly will bring veteran midfielder Stuart Byrne along, although he has no interest in finding a club in Scandinavia at this stage of his career.

The manager felt he lacked experience in the engine-room and believes the presence of Byrne will benefit the entire team.

The rest of the Irish players are open to offers, though. Former Shamrock Rovers defender Aidan Price is skipper, with Mark Rossiter, a free agent after four years at Bohs, the vice-captain. They both have league winners' medals in their trophy cabinets -- as have Byrne, Zayed, Glen Fitzpatrick, Brian Shelley, Liam Burns and Bobby Ryan.

Ireland will play the Finnish selection in their opening match and have gained some information on their opponents from from Drogheda favourite Sami Ristila, who is now manager of FC Haka and is interested in a number of Kelly's charges.

PFAI Squad -- Billy Brennan, Aaron Shanahan, Liam Burns, Sean Kelly, Brian Gartland, Mark Rosstier, Brian Shelley, Aidan Price, Shaun Kelly, Dean Marshall, Darren Meenan, Bobby Ryan, Stuart Byrne, Mark Leech, Eamonn Zayed, Daryl Kavanagh, Glen Fitzpatrick, Karl Moore.

Irish Independent