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Oldham keen to sign 'the best footballer in the Republic of Ireland league'

Patrick McEleney is being linked with several clubs after his contract with Dundalk expired last month.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

OLDHAM ATHLETIC MANAGER Richie Wellens has confirmed that they’ve been in talks to sign out-of-contract Dundalk star Patrick McEleney.

The playmaker, who was one of the stars of the 2017 SSE Airtricity League season, has several offers on the table having impressed during his two seasons at Oriel Park.

Earlier this month, McEleney said he’d soon make a decision on his future, with interest in the 25-year-old coming from Major League Soccer as well as several clubs in the UK, with Oldham and Blackburn Rovers among them.

“We’ve spoken to his agent,” Oldham boss Richie Wellens told Manchester Evening News. “I like him, he’s a really good footballer and is the best footballer in the Republic of Ireland league.”

Oldham, who are currently in 14th place in League One, already have two Irish-born players in their squad. However, as things stand, on-loan pair Eoin Doyle (Preston North End) and Jack Byrne (Wigan Athletic) are both due to return to their parent clubs in January.

Wellens added: “[The League of Ireland] is growing in stature and growing in terms of its standing. It’s grown in the last four of five years and a lot of good players are coming from the Republic of Ireland.

“We’ve obviously got Jack Byrne and Eoin Doyle, so they produce good players. I like the mentality of the players. Patrick is someone who can use both feet and take players on and can score goals, so we are trying to talk to him. I think there are three of four offers. If we can do something then we’ll try, but if we can’t we’ll move on.”

McEleney scored 11 times in all competitions for Dundalk in 2017, including several goal-of-the-season contenders. After moving to Oriel Park from Derry City, he won a Premier Division medal in 2016. He has also been named in the PFAI Team of the Year in each of his two seasons with the Lilywhites, as well as being a Player of the Year nominee in 2017.

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