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Major boost for Sligo Rovers as they snap up last season's League of Ireland top goalscorer

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe is back in Irish football.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe during his time at Derry City.
Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe during his time at Derry City.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

SLIGO ROVERS HAVE given their prospects for the remainder of the 2020 League of Ireland season a shot in the arm by signing Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.

The 26-year-old English attacker, who joins Sligo until the end of the campaign, is back for his second spell in Irish football.

He ended last season as the Premier Division’s top goalscorer after scoring 14 times while on loan at Derry City from Colchester United.

Ogedi-Uzokwe moved to Hapoel Hadera in February, but his stint in the Israeli Premier League was brought to a premature conclusion by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m very happy to be back in the League of Ireland,” he said. “I really liked the league here and I’m excited by the challenge of coming to Sligo Rovers.

“I know they haven’t picked up the results they wanted at the start of the season and there’s only 14 games to play. I’m looking to take it step by step and win a few games as soon as we can.

“It has been a frustrating year for me. I left Israel when the league was stopped due to Covid-19 and I just wanted to be closer to home. When the offer came in to be back in the League of Ireland, it appealed to me.

“I remember Sligo were tough opponents. My time at Derry was great, getting to Europe and there is good football played in Ireland. This spell I hope to get more goals and help Sligo get up the table for the next months. I’m very keen to be back on the pitch as soon as possible.”

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Having lost all four of their fixtures before the season was paused in March, Sligo Rovers currently sit at the bottom of the Premier Division table. However, they do have a game in hand on Cork City, who are three points above them in ninth place.

The first of 14 matches that the Bit O’ Red will play for the remainder of the truncated season will be away to Derry City, their new signing’s former club, a week from today.

“It’s a very good signing for us, I feel,” manager Liam Buckley said of Ogedi-Uzokwe’s arrival. “We’re looking for Junior to come in and hit the ground running as soon as he’s eligible to be involved.

“We have some good options in the forward area. Junior can play across the front three and he scored some very good goals last season. I remember in particular he did well against us, so we’re very aware of his talent. We know he can be a very good player in this league and we want him to have the same impact here that he had with Derry City.

“The Israeli League is a good standard and I think he would have shown his ability there if Covid-19 hadn’t changed the landscape. It is to our benefit that he wanted to come back to these shores so I’m delighted he is a Sligo Rovers player now.

“We’re still in the market, but there is nothing further to say on that right now. We have a friendly on Saturday in Galway and we’re gearing up for next Friday’s game in Derry. Every game is going to be very important and we’ll need to be ready for a hard game.”

Ahead of next Friday’s game at Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, Derry City have added to their own attacking options by signing James Akintunde.

The 24-year-old striker joins Declan Devine’s side after departing Maidenhead United in England’s National League.

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Paul Dollery

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