With the January transfer window less than a week away, a number of Ireland players will come under the spotlight. While some will be looking to move up divisions, others will be looking for a route out of their clubs for more game time. Here is a list of players linked with moves in recent weeks.
Conor Hourihane has enjoyed a successful start to life in the Championship. The Barnsley captain has an incredible ten assists already this season along with three goals. His form has resulted in inclusion in provisional Ireland squads but the Bandon native has yet to make the final cut.
The Daily Mail reported that Aston Villa and Celtic have shown an interest in the midfielder with Rangers also keen for his signature. His performances have also drawn Premier League attention and with his contract talks with Barnsley put on hold, Hourihane could find his dramatic rise from League 2 continue.
Just after the announcement of the Ireland squad for Euro 2016, some may have wondered would Darron Gibson have featured if he looked for a move away from Everton the previous January. What many people don’t realise is that Gibson has actually put in some very good performances when given a run for Everton and did enjoy a run of games towards the end of last season.
In fact, Gibson signed a new contract just last summer. However, injuries have yet again hampered the Derryman’s progress. Although highly regarded at Goodison Park, he may need to move on to salvage his career. Just like Aiden McGeady, a loan move could be the best resolution before revisiting his options in the summer.
Back in August, it was reported by the Irish Times that Alan Judge was due for a medial with Newcastle United. This seemed bizarre considering the Dubliner had sustained a horrific leg break that has kept him out of action ever since. Judge’s 14 goals and 12 assists last season drew an array of interest and with Newcastle looking for a quick top flight return, many believed Judge could be the man to get them over the line. With the Irish international back in full training and his contract set to expire in the summer, a move to Tyneside isn’t completely out of the question.
If there was one Irish player many would have backed for a big move over the summer, it was probably Robbie Brady. The Baldoyle man has put speculation behind him to put all his energy into Norwich’s title push.
However, with the Canaries seven points off the play-offs, Brady surely deserves another shot in the Premier League.
Aston Villa are thought to be in hot pursuit. However despite Villa’s revival under Steve Bruce, they too look an outside bet for promotion. After back-to-back relegations, many will feel that Brady deserves a bigger move. With the lower half of the Premier League a likely destination, Brady may have to wait until the summer before a concrete offer is made.
Free agent Keane is now at a crossroads in his career and at 36 has indicated his willingness to play on. Following his five year stint in LA, a further stay in the MLS cold be an option with the Irish Sun reporting potential moves to new franchises Atlanta or Minnesota.
A move back home to Ireland has also been dismissed while offers from Australia seem to be further down Keane’s preference list.
With Jermaine Defoe still making waves in the Premier League at 34, some may wonder if Keane could give England one last crack. An intriguing move could be a stint at promotion-chasing Leeds, a club where Keane scored 13 league goals before departing for Tottenham. However the former Ireland captain seems to have grown fond of the lifestyle across the Atlantic, and will most likely prolong his career in the MLS for at least another season.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena