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Six Irish players that might need a move during the January transfer window

These players may be looking for opportunities at a new club in 2018.

James McCarthy

2017 was a year which saw new figures establish themselves on the international scene for Ireland including Shane Duffy, Cyrus Christie and Callum O’Dowda, however it was also a year in which many of the old guard regressed for a host of different reasons.

Unfortunately that was the case for James McCarthy this past year, who found himself caught in an ugly war of words between Martin O’Neill and former Everton boss Ronald Koeman.

Chelsea v Everton - Carabao Cup - Fourth Round - Stamford Bridge Source: PA Archive/PA Images

This, combined with persistent injury woes and a litany of expensive signings at Goodison Park over the summer saw the midfielder play just a single game in the Premier League this season until this past weekend.

McCarthy started for just the second time this campaign for Everton in their 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday, but still only played 45 minutes before being brought off in place of Wayne Rooney.

He was first choice in Koeman’s midfield the first half of last season, but following the rise of Idrissa Gana and the addition of Morgan Schneiderlin in those central positions McCarthy has since lost his place in the Toffees’ starting XI, and may struggle to get it back having regained fitness.

The midfielder only turned 27 in November and has plenty of years left to play at a Premier League standard.

The question remains as to whether or not he will be doing it at Goodison Park or if a new chapter elsewhere would be a better alternative following two and a half years on Merseyside.

McCarthy undoubtedly played some of his finest football under Roberto Martinez at Wigan and successfully followed his manager to Everton. But after Martinez’s departure he has simply not been able to capture that same performance level.

James McClean

Following their 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Sunday, it was pointed out on Twitter that in his last 48 games for West Brom James McClean had scored as many own goals as goals (1), with zero assists in that time as well.

Although enjoying an exceptional individual year for his country in 2017, which saw him named RTÉ Sportsperson of the Year, the player might be looking to pastures new beyond the Hawthorns as he approaches his 29th birthday in April.

West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United - Premier League - The Hawthorns Source: PA Archive/PA Images

McClean joined the Baggies two and a half years ago and made 28 starts in his debut campaign under Tony Pulis. The following campaign featured only 13 starts and at the halfway stage this season the number stands at just five.

The player put in some simply exceptional displays for Martin O’Neill as Ireland made it all the way to the World Cup play-offs, but was not able to replicate that form for his club due to those limited first-team opportunities.

There is a chance that the Derry midfielder could be given a rejuvenated lease of life under new boss Alan Pardew after the dismissal of Pulis.

However coming towards the prime years of his career approaching the twilight of his 20s, McClean’s time at West Brom could be nearing its end.

Shane Long

It has been painfully well-documented the current goal drought which has plagued Shane Long since last February. The player has not scored for club or country in over ten months and has cast a frustrated figure for Southampton this season.

The recent form of Charlie Austin has not helped Long’s cause either, as the 28-year-old has become Mauricio Pellegrino’s first choice striker this season.

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League - White Hart Lane Source: John Walton

Austin has scored five goals in six starts and 11 substitute appearances since August, during which time Long has managed none in nine starts and six appearances off the bench.

The player told Martin O’Neill back in October that he “couldn’t buy a goal” and many are suggesting that a move away from St Mary’s could do the 30-year-old the world of good.

Whether that means moving to another Premier League club, abroad, or the to Championship remains entirely in his court. However it seems most likely that the forward will in fact stick it out until at least the end of the season at Southampton.

Long put in a brilliant performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday evening and, were it not for some spellbinding saves from David de Gea, he easily could have scored one — if not more — on any other day.

As his Premier League record reflects, the Tipperary man is not a conventional striker and has for years demonstrated a willingness to work himself into the ground putting defences under pressure with hard running, where his finishing in one-v-one situations has not abided.

He will know more than anybody else that he has played below himself in 2017 and will certainly be hoping for a fresh start this year.

Aiden McGeady

Aiden McGeady has also cast a frustrated figure this season for Sunderland, but following a last minute winner for the Black Cats over the weekend, his future could be looking up after a tricky first few months.

The winger joined Sunderland following his second loan spell away from Everton at Preston last season, but has since struggled to settle in this campaign after the dismissal of boss Simon Grayson, who brought him to the Stadium of Light for £500,000.

Norwich City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Carrow Road Source: Joe Giddens

McGeady performed brilliantly for Grayson at Preston but has found first-team opportunities limited under Chris Coleman since the former Wales boss took charge in the middle of November.

The winger will turn 32 in April and could well been seen as a way for Coleman to raise assets as his side languish in 21st position amid the prospect of back-to-back relegations into League One — thus requiring new recruits in the January transfer window.

That said, the player could well be hanging around a bit longer following this past weekend’s action.

Saturday saw McGeady the source of inspiration for his side, scoring the winner in a crucial win for Sunderland against Nottingham Forest — three important points which saw them rise out of the relegation zone.

Scott Hogan

Scott Hogan hit the headlines in August when he finally declared for Ireland following months of speculation.

The striker featured on the bench in the build-up to Ireland’s eventual World Cup qualification exit to Denmark but was always a good choice to rely upon in the absence of Shane Long, Jonathan Walters and Daryl Murphy.

Aston Villa v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Villa Park Source: Paul Thomas

The 25-year-old could have a long and promising career in the green jersey ahead of him in the next few years but that will only come into fruition if he finds first team football at his club — something which has been lacking at Aston Villa this season.

Steve Bruce has handed Hogan just six starts since he returned to full fitness this season and he has been behind in the pecking order at Villa Park below Joshua Onomah and Keinan Davis for large parts of the campaign.

Hogan has had a run of starts under his belt since the end of December, playing against Brentford and Middlesbrough, however has failed to score since August where he nabbed a brace against Wigan in the EFL Cup.

Kieran O’Hara

The 21-year-old Manchester United goalkeeper is one of the most promising talents at underage level for Ireland and is Noel King’s trusted number one.

The career of a goalkeeper is naturally longer than that of any outfield footballer and can last until a person’s late 30s (or early 40s in the case of Shay Given), therefore Kieran O’Hara should be in no rush in terms of career progression.

Manchester United v Feyenoord - UEFA Europa League - Group A - Old Trafford Source: EMPICS Sport

But with first-team opportunities at Old Trafford all but impossible given the presence of David De Gea, the Manchester-born Irish goalkeeper may consider another loan move in order to get experience as a club’s number one, as opposed to solely U21 and U23 appearances.

Given, too, began starting games for Newcastle United at the tender age of 21 — making 24 appearances in the 1996/97 season and remaining first choice until his departure to Manchester City 11 years later.

Speaking to The42 back in May, O’Hara said that getting the chance to train with the best goalkeeper in the world in De Gea and be included in senior United squad’s by Jose Mourinho was an incredible opportunity he is thankful for.

Therefore sticking around Old Trafford for a couple more seasons could be wise for that invaluable experience at the highest level he spoke of.

But a loan move similar to the one he enjoyed at Morecambe in League Two last season could offer O’Hara first team minutes as he continues to prepare for a highly successful career as an established number one.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Aaron Gallagher

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