52-week deals attracting better players - Bradley
Stephen Bradley says Shamrock Rovers had to shop abroad in their attempt to catch up with the League of Ireland's top two. And he feels that the security of 52-week contracts is going to make it easier to bring in recruits from outside the league and sell them a more stable environment.
English striker Daniel Carr made a big impression for the Hoops in Monday's 6-0 win over Bray, with ex-Fulham man Sean Kavanagh also influential.
Bradley also recruited Scottish defender Ally Gilchrist over the winter and admitted that an absence of quality alternatives within the league meant he had to look outside.
In that context, the switch to a proper full-time set-up was essential in order to turn heads and change a perception.
"I think it's the only way to do it," said Bradley. "I know financially it's tight on clubs, in the off-season especially. But if you want to improve the standard of the league you have to stay 52 weeks because it's the only way of attracting better players.
"From my point of view, last year we signed a lot of players to bridge the gap in terms of could we get close to Cork and Dundalk. We finished third.
"Now we need to find players to try to bridge the next gap. When you look around the league, Dundalk have a lot of them, Cork have a lot of them. There are not many about. For me it would be very silly not to use my contacts outside of Ireland to do that."
Former Arsenal team-mate Paolo Vernazza recommended Carr who has a slightly chequered CV for a 24-year-old but Bradley did his homework on the character of a player who last played in Sweden.
"I spoke to chief scouts at other clubs," said Bradley. "People who are in the game a long time and everything that came back said 'sign him'. After five minutes of watching him with us, you wanted him, it was just his character."