The European domestic season and international break have concluded, so attention has switched to the transfer window and several Irish players are likely to attract interest.
Some Irish players are out of contract next season, meaning that their clubs may want to cash in. Others may want to move on given a lack of game time or because of interest from other clubs after some fine individual season.
Shane Long may look for a fresh start if Southampton sign a new striker, while Alan Browne will have caught the eye after a fine season with Preston North End. Conor Masterson is a free agent after leaving Liverpool and will look to sign for a club to fulfil his fantastic potential.
We have looked at some of the Irish players who could move onto their next challenge and pinpointed some clubs they have been linked to or could be suited to.
Having emptied the tank to help guide Aston Villa to Premier League promotion, Whelan’s Ireland career has also been reignited. At 35, many will find it hard to see how the veteran would handle consistent game time in the Premier League. However, Whelan has always looked after himself, which has gone a long way in prolonging his career, and he could still do a job in the Championship, similar to seasoned campaigners like Gareth Barry and even former Irish teammate Wes Hoolahan. A team challenging for promotion next season could look at the vital role he played with Villa and take a chance on the Dubliner. There have also been calls on social media for Celtic to take a chance on the holding midfielder.
Possible destinations: Celtic, Stoke City, Sunderland, Huddersfield Town.
The unfortunate reality is that James McClean has been poor for club and country for the guts of two years. After suffering relegation with West Brom, the Derryman joined Stoke City where a change in the system following Gary Rowatt’s departure left McClean in and out of the team. The winger has benefited from playing in more direct systems and could excel in many Championship teams suited to his old-school game – such as Martin O’Neill’s Nottingham Forest, for example. Celtic are always linked with a move for the 30-year-old, but should McClean leave Stoke, he will likely remain a Championship player – although Burnley boss Sean Dyche is said to be a fan.
Possible Destinations: Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Sheffield Wednesday.
A player with plenty of hype around the Irish camp, it seems Bristol City’s Callum O’Dowda may seek a change of scenery, having been in and out of their side after injury. Given some of the sparkling performances he came up with last season, the 24-year-old could catch the eye of some higher profile teams. Leeds were rumoured to be interested and could reignite the rumours now that their top target Daniel James has signed for Manchester United. While a move to the Premier League may not be out of the question.
Possible Destinations: Leeds United, AFC Bournemouth, Norwich City, Middlesbrough.
He made his name as a goal-scoring machine for Brentford, but Hogan has struggled as Aston Villa, mainly owing to the talents of Tammy Abraham. This has completely affected his momentum and may result in a move despite earning promotion with both Villa and Sheffield United. Remaining in the Championship could serve Hogan well, especially at a side that plays a bit more in behind the defence to allow him to demonstrate his pace and power. However, the striker could still play a part for Villa, especially given that manager Dean Smith got so much out of the forward when the pair worked together at Bretford.
Possible Destinations: Brentford, Charlton, West Bromwich Albion, Fulham.
Despite being a key part of their rise to the Premier League, and being touted for great things a couple of seasons ago, Arter’s days at Bournemouth are numbered. The attritional midfielder had a mixed season at Cardiff, starting almost every game, but he was inconsistent at times. Arter can hold his own in the Premier League, but having failed to catch the eye last season, may find it hard to pick up a top-flight club. His brother-in-law is Fulham manager Scott Parker, who is rebuilding the London club. A London native, this could be the perfect fit for Arter.
Possible Destinations: Fulham, Aston Villa, Stoke City, Charlton.
It has become clear in the last two seasons that Robinson is too good for the Championship – with his versatility and eye for a goal a huge pull factor for many clubs. It was reported that Preston turned down an approach for a Premier League club with Bournemouth previously interested in the pacey attacker. Robinson could be set for a regular spot in Mick McCarthy’s side and a top flight move would certainly boost the team. The former Aston Villa youngster is a rarity on this list of players who will move up the leagues rather than down.
Possible Destinations: AFC Bournemouth, Norwich City, Crystal Palace, Brighton.
It seems a mystery that Ciaran Clark has had such a fall from grace despite playing well in his rare performances for Newcastle. This has led to exclusion from recent Irish squads despite captaining the side in the past. With over a decade of Premier League experience and not even 30, Clark would be an asset to any newly promoted club or promotion-chasing club. The former England under-20 Captain is unlikely to be a St. James’s Park at the start of the new Premier League season, but a loan move may not be out of the question. Aston Villa, his former club, could be interested although they have plenty of left-sided centre-halves at their disposal.
Possible Destinations: Leeds United, Aston Villa, Fulham, Stoke City.
Like Clark, James McCarthy’s talent has been a rare sight because of injuries. Still regarded as one of Ireland’s most talented players, it seems he will depart Goodison Park, especially given the fact that he couldn’t make match day squads even when fit. At this stage of his career, first-team football is essential for the Glaswegian, especially if he wants to prolong a so far underwhelming international career. McCarthy is good enough for the top flight but it is more likely to be the bottom half where he features. Denied a loan in January, the 28-year-old would be a bargain and valuable addition to several squads in the Premier League.
Possible Destinations: Newcastle United, West Ham United, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace
The Liverpudlian drew great excitement when he was called up to Mick McCarthy’s senior team only for injury to prevent his final involvement. The bright spark in an otherwise dismal Bolton side, Connell attracted some high profile interest from Premier League clubs in January. Almost certain to leave the Trotters this summer, the teenager seems to be on his way to Celtic, although this has yet to be announced formally.
Possible Destinations: Celtic, Tottenham, Brighton, Southampton