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Ireland defender Caldwell on the hunt for new club after North Carolina Courage exit

The vastly-experienced Dubliner departs after just one season at the NWSL side.

Diane Caldwell won her 85th Ireland cap last week.
Diane Caldwell won her 85th Ireland cap last week.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND defender Diane Caldwell is on the hunt for a new club, after North Carolina Courage announced that they had declined the option to extend her contract.

“The Courage decline to exercise the option on Diane Caldwell,” the club tweeted this evening, before thanking Caldwell and wishing her “success and all the best” in the future.

The 33-year-old Dubliner departs after just one season in the National Women’s Soccer League [NWSL], having signed a one-year contract with a one-year option at Courage in January.

Caldwell, who previously captained SC Sands in the Frauen-Bundesliga, made just seven appearances, and was an unused substitute on 17 occasions, as Courage exited the title race in the first round of the play-offs.

The Balbriggan native was a team-mate of fellow Irish international Denise O’Sullivan at the club: “This makes me sad,” O’Sullivan wrote on Twitter. “What a girl. Good luck, Diane.”

2021 was a difficult season at Courage; their on-field exploits were overshadowed by an off-field scandal, as manager Paul Riley’s contract was terminated after a report from The Athletic detailed allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct.

Riley led the side to back-to-back NWSL championships in 2018 and 2019, and the void was filled by Sean Nahas on an interim basis. Nahas was officially named head coach this week.

Caldwell won her 85th senior cap for Ireland in last Tuesday’s 11-0 World Cup qualifier hammering of Georgia, impressing as she broke back into Vera Pauw’s starting XI.

Galway star Savannah McCarthy appeared to be Pauw’s preferred option in defence since September’s 3-2 friendly win over Australia, though Caldwell had been a mainstay up to that point.

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The vastly-experienced defender, who can also operate in midfield, previously played club football in Iceland and Norway, as well as the US and Germany.

She made her Ireland debut in 2006.

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Emma Duffy

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