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Oisin Keniry/INPHO Danmien Delaney is set to line out for Cork City this evening.
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Former Premier League defender set for Cork City debut
Damien Delaney is set to line out for the Leesiders against Portsmouth this evening.

DAMIEN DELANEY IS set to make his first Cork City appearance since re-joining the club in a friendly against Portsmouth at Turner’s Cross tonight (kick-off 7pm).

It is Delaney’s second spell at the Leesiders, with the 36-year-old centre-back having started out at the club, before embarking on a career in England with Leicester City.

Delaney comes to Cork with a wealth of experience, having spent time in the top four divisions in England over the course of his career.

Having made a couple of appearances for the Foxes in the top flight, between 2000 and 2002, he returned to the Premier League with Crystal Palace ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, establishing himself as a regular there four seasons on the bounce, before undertaking a more peripheral squad role in 2017-18.

The signing of Delaney, who earned nine caps for Ireland, was announced by Cork last month, with the defender committing until the end of the 2019 season.

Other members of the squad who didn’t feature on Friday night, including Peter Cherrie, Aaron Barry, Danny Kane, Conor McCarthy, Garry Buckley, John Kavanagh, Johnny Dunleavy, Steven Beattie and Pierce Phillips are expected to play against the League One outfit.

“We’ve got Portsmouth on Monday, it’s a big opportunity for a lot of lads who were on the bench tonight,” John Caulfield said on Friday, after seeing his side suffer a dramatic loss against title rivals Dundalk.

“Damien’s coming in… We’ll have a completely new XI out on Monday, so it’s a good opportunity for them.”

Delaney, who became eligible to play for Cork at the turn of the month, made just two Premier League appearances for a relegation-threatened Palace side last season. But Caulfield says he has no concerns about the player’s fitness, insisting he is in “great condition”.

Asked whether he could come straight into the side, the manager added: “Absolutely, there’s no question about that. He came back from the Premier League. He might not have played many matches, but in the last three weeks in training, he’s been absolutely phenomenal. So there’s no fear [about putting him straight in].”

Delaney will have to fight for his place in the side. 21-year-old centre-back Sean McLoughlin, despite having suffered the misfortune of scoring the decisive own goal in the Dundalk game, has impressed in recent times, as has fellow youngster Conor McCarthy, while 36-year-old former Reading player Alan Bennett has won many admirers in the three years since he re-joined the club.

“We have to make choices, but at the end of the day, the key thing at any club is to have competition for places, and if the fellas are meriting it, it raises the standard, so it’s there for them to fight for their places,” Caulfield said. “We’ll see what happens, but it’s up to us to make sure we pick the best team and the best players.

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“So we’ll see how Damien gets on this Monday and we’ll review it then for Friday night [when Cork host Shamrock Rovers in the league].

Caulfield also suggested that no other new players would be joining the club prior to the transfer window’s closure.

“Unfortunately we work on a very tight budget, so I wouldn’t expect [signings]. We’re happy where we’re at, we just need to bounce back on Friday.

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