Ireland’s final participation in the Fifpro winter tournament for out of contract players begins this morning in Oslo where Stephen Bradley’s men will take on a strong Finnish team with the aim of making this afternoon’s final against either Sweden or Norway.
There is some hope that the Irish will bow out with a success story or two as Sami Ristila, formerly of Drogheda United, now manager at newly-promoted Finnish top flight club Kotkan Tyovaen Palloilijat (KTP), has expressed an interest in several of the travelling party as he seeks to complete his squad for the coming Veikkausliga campaign.
are all said to be attracting the interest of the Finn and all are likely to be given every opportunity to win themselves contract offers over the course of the day’s two games.
“We had 22 to choose from in the end but we decided to just bring 14 outfield players and two goalkeepers so that the ones we did bring would get more of an opportunity to show what they can do,” says Bradley. “As a team, we’d like to do well but it won’t be easy, everyone says that this is the best side that the Finns have ever sent to the event, but the important thing is that the players do themselves justice and that’s what we’ve sought to emphasise.”
Quite a few of the group have actually come close to concluding deals with clubs back at home .
“Something like nine of them are close to signing,” says Bradley, “but I’m glad they’ve chosen to see what the options might be out here and it would be nice if one or two of them got offers good enough to tempt them away.”
Noel Hunt is expected to sign a permanent deal with English Championship side Ipswich Town today after having had his contract with Leeds United terminated by mutual consent yesterday.
Former Dundalk striker Pat Hoban is back in training with Oxford United after a two month lay-off due to an ankle injury sustained in a training session shortly after his arrival at the club.
Ryan Manning’s move from Galway United to QPR appears to have been delayed by 24 hours but the teenager flew to London yesterday and is expected to sign with the Premier League outfit over the course of today.