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Thursday 8 December 2016

Ryan can be a hit - Hunt

Ryan Delaney in action here for Wexford Youths. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ryan Delaney in action here for Wexford Youths. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Stephen Hunt. Photo: Colin O'Riordan

The League of Ireland's latest export to the UK has all the attributes needed to be a success, according to former Ireland international Stephen Hunt.

While Hunt spent all of his playing career in England and began with Crystal Palace, 19-year-old defender Ryan Delaney has two years of first-team football with Wexford Youths as a foundation for his next challenge: making the grade with Championship side Burton Albion.

Delaney this week signed a two-year deal with the Brewers, and while their manager Nigel Clough appears unimpressed with the level of football in Ireland, saying "he's not really played at a decent level", the player's adviser, ex-Ireland man Hunt, has high hopes.

"Like any player going over to England, you don't know how he will get on until he gets there and starts, but he has big potential," Hunt told The Herald.

"It would be unfair of me to say that Ryan will be in the Ireland squad within a year, but he has the potential. All players who go away have potential, it's a matter of delivering and I am sure he will.

"He's has a lot going for him. He's an intelligent lad and he has a very good chance, he's a good character.If he's willing to learn and work hard, he will do well.

"Ryan has done well to get to this level, playing in the Championship, but people at the club like Mick Wallace and Shane Keegan deserve great praise for developing him," added Hunt, who does not read too much into Clough's comments on the league here.

"I am not sure if Nigel has seen a lot of League of Ireland but he liked what he saw in Ryan and Nigel knows that he signed a very good defender who can really pass the ball. If he adds determination and desire to his ability, he will go to the next level."

Hunt, 34, finished his playing career at the end of last season when he left Coventry City but now, apart from running a gastropub in Wexford, has started work as a players' agent. "I prefer representative, I don't like the word 'agent'," Hunt says.

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