Pompey scour Ireland for new recruits

Enda Stevens in Europa League action for Shamrock Rovers against Rubin Kazan in 2011 Picture: Niall Carson
Enda Stevens in Europa League action for Shamrock Rovers against Rubin Kazan in 2011 Picture: Niall Carson

POMPEY are gazing across the Irish sea in an attempt to bolster Paul Cook’s squad.

And first-team coach Ian Foster is adamant the League of Ireland possesses the talent to make a sizeable impact on these shores.

There are some terrific players which have come out of Ireland and others are also ready

Ian Foster

Both Cook and Foster are well-versed in Ireland’s top flight, having managed sides over there earlier in their careers.

Pompey’s new boss spent five-and-a-half seasons at Sligo Rovers, winning the league once and the FAI Cup twice.

As for Foster, he managed Galway United and Dundalk over three years before returning to England.

The duo retain a sizeable amount of contacts inside Irish football to alert them of top talent.

And Foster revealed he is keeping a firm eye on the potential for Pompey recruits.

He said: ‘Ireland is a good league. The market is still relatively untapped, which is unbelievable bearing in mind it is just over the water.

‘Between us I think we have a great knowledge and if we need to watch players then it is only a quick flight.

‘While I was out there everyone was asking what the level was like compared to England. However, it is very, very difficult to say, particularly the teams I was involved in, because you had players of such varying ability.

‘Although, there are some terrific players which have come out of there and others are also ready.

‘I was on a coaching course the other week with a lad from Burnley and we talked about Kevin Long, who is from Cork and played in the Premier League last year before damaging his cruciate.

‘Seamus Coleman has ripped up the Premier League with Everton and been terrific, full of energy with good technical ability.

‘He was at Sligo under Paul and has developed into arguably one of the best full-backs in the Premier League.

‘When I was in Ireland, there were Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn at Derry City who moved to Celtic, while I sold Daniel Kearns to Peterborough and Jay O’Shea to Birmingham.

‘It is almost more beneficial for some of the kids to stay there rather than coming into the Academy system over here, playing men’s football, so when they do get to England they are ready to go straight in.

‘The only difficulty when you are recruiting players from Ireland is judging the level they are coming into.

‘But certainly for League Two, there are players in Ireland that could come and do significantly well.’

This summer Pompey have been linked with Cork City right-back John Kavanagh.

Meanwhile, the roots for Enda Stevens’ arrival can be traced back to his time at Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s

Pompey are hunting more players to bolster their playing squad – and Ireland remains a consideration.

Foster added: ‘The Irish league is always something we are aware of.

‘Paul and I still have plenty of contacts, we speak to an awful lot of managers and some of my staff I worked with at Galway and Dundalk are still in the leagues.

‘They might say “Listen, watch out for this boy and that boy, they are good players”.’