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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Cork City's new addition confident of working towards senior Ireland call-up

Kieran Sadlier is keen to make the step-up having already been capped at U21 level.

Cork City's new signing Kieran Sadlier pictured with manager John Caulfield this afternoon.
Cork City's new signing Kieran Sadlier pictured with manager John Caulfield this afternoon.

Updated at 20:15

KIERAN SADLIER SAYS he has taken the next step in a career which he believes can lead him to inclusion in the Republic of Ireland senior squad.

The English-born Ireland U21 international, whose grandfather hails from Tipperary, today signed an 18-month contract with Cork City, having impressed since he joined Sligo Rovers last season from Peterborough United. The deal includes the option of a further year.

Although he admitted to being “emotional” while playing his final game for Sligo last night — a 1-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers in which he set up John Russell’s goal — the 22-year-old winger reckons it was “a no brainer” to leave the Showgrounds for Cork. Sligo received an undisclosed fee for the player, whose contract was due to expire at the end of the season.

Sadlier will be in line to make his debut for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders against St Patrick’s Athletic at Turner’s Cross on Sunday afternoon. He won’t be eligible for the second leg of their Europa League first round qualifier against Levadia Tallinn on Thursday, but if City progress — they lead 2-0 from the first leg — Sadlier will be allowed to play in the second round, with City likely to face AEK Larnaca.

“It’s something I looked at hard, going to the next stage of my career,” Sadlier said at a press conference this afternoon at the Cork International Hotel. “At a young age, playing in Europe and being in a team that’s winning consistently, it was an important part of my decision to come here. I’m looking forward to playing at a higher level.”

Cork City manager John Caulfield was “thrilled” to complete the signing of Sadlier, a player he admitted to being an admirer of for quite a while. While the former West Ham United player has been playing on the left wing, Caulfield feels he can operate in several roles.

“He’s been in our league for the last couple of years. He’s been probably the top player for Sligo — creates a lot of chances, scores and he’s very versatile,” the City boss said of Sadlier, who’s been on target six times this season in the league — and twice against his new club.

“He can play left wing, right wing, number 10; he’s played in all those positions. From our point of view it gives us that versatility, so we’re looking at different options.”

Kieran Sadlier celebrates scoring their first goal from a penalty Kieran Sadlier celebrates after scoring for Sligo Rovers against Cork City in May. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cork City’s wingers Stephen Dooley and Karl Sheppard have been two of the club’s top performers this season. However, with striker Seanie Maguire — as well as left-back Kevin O’Connor — joining Preston North End on 24 July, Caulfield will need to reshuffle his pack.

“Personally I used to say I was a left winger or a right winger, but I played as a number 10 last year, I’ve played up front, I’ve played in the middle, so anywhere in attack really,” said Sadlier, when asked about his favourite position.

“I’ve even played left-back sometimes. Left wing is my favourite but I can mix it up. Wherever the ball is I try to get on the ball as much as possible and play with the players around me.”

He added: “It’s going to be hard to break in. I don’t think I’m just going to walk into the team. I’m here to work hard and train hard, and get in the team the right way.”

Sadlier revealed that Maguire played a role in convincing him to move to Cork. The pair were previously team-mates at West Ham and at underage level for Ireland. Like Maguire, Sadlier hopes his time in Cork can provide a platform for him to earn a move back to the UK.

“I spoke to Seanie a lot,” he said. “He’s one of my best friends from when I was at West Ham. He talks about Cork, he loves it here. It was a big factor in coming — obviously seeing the players who have left here before and gone over to England and got big moves, that was obviously a factor in my decision. I want to see how far I can go.”

Having represented Ireland from U15 to U21 level, Sadlier believes he’s capable of eventually graduating to senior international football.

He said: “It’s got to be one of my long-term targets to get called up to the senior squad. Obviously with the players who have done it this year — Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle and I’m sure Seanie will get his call-up soon — it’s an ambition and I’m confident I can do it.”

Meanwhile, Caulfield has dismissed speculation linking Cork City with a move for Bray Wanderers striker Aaron Greene. With Bray struggling financially, the club’s players have been told they are free to pursue their options elsewhere. However, Caulfield has claimed that City are unlikely to have room in their budget for any further additions.

He said: “The way I feel is our signing is done and we’re very happy. Our budget is done and that’s where we’re at. I don’t expect us to do anything else.”

Cork City confirm capture of coveted ex-West Ham winger Sadlier

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Paul Dollery

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