Euro boost for Mac
Wednesday's boss delighted with capture of long-time target Aiden
It's not quite the Premier League or the Champions League.
But given where his career has been for the last year, in cold storage, Aiden McGeady will welcome the chance to play in the Sheffield Wednesday-Burnley tie at Hillsborough tonight, after his loan move from Everton finally went through yesterday.
It's been a year and a day since McGeady last played 90 minutes in a league game so the winger needs games, any sort of games, if he's to get his career back on track and, from an international point of view, play a part in Euro 2016.
McGeady had hoped for a loan move away from Everton to another Premier League club but with doubts over his fitness and form, the 29-year-old had to take what was on offer, though Martin O'Neill will be relieved to see McGeady - who has played just 45 minutes of club football this season - get any sort of game time.
His new boss, Carlos Carvalhal, is a long-time admirer of the winger and admitted that he once tried to lure McGeady from Celtic to Sporting Lisbon, and the Owls manager is also aware that getting back into the frame with Ireland was a factor for a "hungry" McGeady in making the 100-mile switch from Merseyside to Sheffield.
"I am very happy to have him here, it's a big personal challenge as he wants to play in the European Championships with the national team," said Carvalhal, who could throw McGeady straight into action for a promotion-chasing Owls side at home to Burnley tonight, Keiren Westwood now a club-mate for the first time.
"We decided that we would bring in players who would improve the team, not [players] with average value. He is a player that has extra quality, he is a player I know very, very well because when he played at Celtic I was coach of Sporting and I tried to bring him to Sporting but at that moment it wasn't possible.
"I have analysed him very well and I know him very well. So I am happy, he is a player that can improve the team and he will help us in the second half of the season.
"It's good (that he played in Russia), he played in a different culture, he understands different systems, different ways to play."
While some of McGeady's international team-mates have played all of their football outside the top flight (Jeff Hendrick, Richard Keogh), McGeady has only ever played in the top division, in Scotland, Russia and England so the drop into the second tier is a challenge.
But despite that, Martin O'Neill will, in general, be pleased with how the January transfer window panned out. McGeady got a much-needed loan move as did two other internationals, albeit fringe ones (Alex Pearce and Anthony Stokes), and even though the January window has closed, others in need (Shay Given) can still go out on loan to a Championship club. But Marc Wilson's fresh injury is a concern and O'Neill still has a bunch of players whose club situation looks grim for now, as David Forde (Millwall) and Darron Gibson (Everton) are out of favour, and a lack of game time could hurt them when it comes to making the cut for France.
On the plus side, Stephen Ward is very much back in the frame after winning back his place in the Burnley side, while Darren Randolph's exposure to first team games at West Ham last month, albeit in the FA Cup, is welcome, particularly the promise from Hammers boss Slaven Bilic that Randolph will play ahead of first-choice keeper Adrian in that competition as long as West Ham are involved.