Shelbourne want emotional Hoolahan return but deal not close with player committed to Cambridge until summer

Wes Hoolahan celebrates Cambridge's shock win over Newcastle United in the FA Cup. Photo: Reuters

Daniel McDonnell

Shelbourne want to bring Wes Hoolahan back to Ireland - but they are not close to agreeing on the terms of a return.

Hoolahan is settled in England and has no plans to move home to Ireland in the longer term, yet he was interested in talking to the Reds about an emotional comeback to the club where he started his career.

The Dubliner remains an important player for Cambridge, so a summer move is the only realistic scenario.

Hoolahan's contract with Cambridge expires at the end of the League One season and he is a big part of Mark Bonner's plans for the remainder of the campaign.

Hoolahan (39) lives with his family in the Norwich area - the club where he enjoyed his best days in the UK - and his workload is tailored towards maximising his impact. He came off the bench to play a key role in Cambridge's shock FA Cup win over Newcastle last weekend.

He operates off a slightly different schedule to the rest of the group, and family considerations would be a big part of the equation if he was to consider a short-term relocation to Ireland.

It's believed that further discussions will be required to see if it's viable for all parties.

Shels are preparing for a return to the Premier Division with the appointment of Damien Duff capturing the imagination.

They have moved to a full-time training schedule, with former Ireland international Joey O'Brien leaving Shamrock Rovers to become Duff's assistant.

The club have ambitious plans under new ownership and Duff has primarily recruited young players from other League of Ireland clubs in this transfer window - although it's believed they have looked overseas to strengthen in certain departments.

Hoolahan broke into the Shels team as a teenager and collected three Premier Division medals before moving to Livingston at the end of the 2005 season.

However, the standout moment of his time with the club was his role in their European run in 2004, with the playmaker a central figure as Pat Fenlon's side reached the final qualifying stage for the Champions League, where they eventually lost out to Deportivo La Coruna.