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Friday 18 August 2017

Whelan's days in top flight look over

Ireland’s Glenn Whelan. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland’s Glenn Whelan. Photo: Sportsfile

Stoke City have cleared the path for Ireland man Glenn Whelan to end his long association with the club by saying that they won't stand in his way if an offer comes in.

Whelan, who captained Ireland in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Austria, has a year left on his contract with Stoke but with the arrival of Darren Fletcher, it seems game-time will be limited next term.

Aston Villa have been linked with the 33-year-old and chairman Peter Coates says the club are willing to discuss his future. "If someone comes in for Glenn and Glenn wants to go we wouldn't want to stand in his way," said Coates. "I don't predict things like that in football but it's a possibility."

Whelan joined Stoke from Sheffield Wednesday for just £500,000 in January 2008 and helped City get promoted to the Premier League.

He clocked up 26 Premier League starts last season but boss Mark Hughes is now willing to let the loyal Whelan move on.

Stoke, who at one point supplied four players to the senior Ireland side, may have just one, Jon Walters, in the side next season as Marc Wilson has already moved on while Shay Given was released last month.

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Whelan has been hugely popular with the Stoke supporters since his arrival and he's seen as one of their all-time bargain buys, delivering 277 Premier League appearances, putting him 17th in terms of games played by Irish players in England's top flight.

He is just one of a number of current or former Ireland internationals facing an uncertain summer. Shay Given (Stoke), Jon Douglas and Leon Best (Ipswich), Stephen Kelly (Rotherham), Kevin Foley (Coventry) and Eddie Nolan (Blackpool) have all been released by their clubs and are on the move.

John O'Shea (Sunderland) and Noel Hunt (Portsmouth) are out of contract, but may be asked to stay on for another season, although Sunderland will of course be playing in the second tier.

Daryl Murphy remains under contract with Newcastle United but he has already been told by boss Rafa Benitez that he is unlikely to feature in the Premier League next term and will be allowed move on.

"I spoke to him about my future and he thanked me for what I had done and said they were going to listen to a few offers. I said, 'That's fine'," Murphy says of Benitez.

"I always knew I had been brought in there to do a specific job, to help the club to get promoted.

"I had no illusions that I was going to be starting for Newcastle in the Premier League if we got up."

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