Having just been named PFAI Player of the Year, Jack Byrne says he needs some time to decide whether he will be sticking around to defend the title with Shamrock Rovers next season.
Stephen Bradley has said that the club has made the 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international a "fantastic" offer but the midfielder already has options abroad and is conscious that they might develop as the various transfer windows progress. Rovers, he insists, will be "in my mind," when he makes a decision on his future in the coming weeks but he has the sound of a man who might feel his next challenge lies elsewhere.
“I’d be hoping that people will respect that it’s still early in England or in Europe, America in all their transfer windows,” Byrne said from Dubai where he is currently on holiday. “I have signed the last day of the summer window for Kilmarnock, I signed the last day of the January window for Wigan. I understand these things don’t just happen even though you are a free agent.
“Could I turn around tomorrow and get something? Yeah. Would it be the right thing to do? You don’t know all the options on the table so it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. I am still not ruling out Shamrock Rovers.
“It just has to be the right club and the right challenge,” continued the Dubliner, who has been linked, among other things, with a possible move to Cypriot side Apoel where Mick McCarthy is now in charge. The club has a budget that is six or seven times the size of the one at Rovers, although the economics are likely to be an issue for the Irish side with virtually any move from abroad for the midfielder.
“One of the best years of my career was playing in Holland [with Cambuur]. I wouldn’t rule out going back there if something good became available. You can’t rule out anything and you never know when the phone is going to ring, so you can’t rule out anything. I’m not just looking towards England or Shamrock Rovers. There are a lot of things that I have to take into consideration and I will be doing that over the next couple of weeks.”
Given Byrne's form this season, the recognition from his fellow members of the PFAI is no surprise at all and he is, inevitably, a leading contender for the Airtricity/Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland Personality of the Year award too with player included on a shortlist on Wednesday that also includes Bradley, Chris Shields, Keith Long, Ollie Horgan and Tim Clancy.
His team-mate, Alan Mannus, makes the list for best goalkeeper along with Ed McGinty of Sligo Rovers and Drogheda's David Odumosu.
Back with the players' union awards, Danny Grant was named PFAI young player of the year while Mark Doyle of Drogheda United picked up the First Division prize.