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Robbie closing in on return for Burnley

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Robbie Brady is nearing full fitness

Robbie Brady is nearing full fitness

SPORTSFILE

Robbie Brady is nearing full fitness

Ireland midfielder Robbie Brady is close to a return to action with Burnley, but his club fear that the Dubliner is still short of match fitness.

Brady has not featured for the Clarets in the three games played since the Premier League resumed last month, and while he should make the squad for tomorrow's game at home to Sheffield United, he's not yet at a level where boss Sean Dyche can expect 90 minutes.

"Robbie (Brady) has a chance of being in and around it maybe, although we could probably do with him having some more football," Dyche said ahead of the meeting with the Blades, his squad ravaged by injury as well as the departure of out-of-contract players like Jeff Hendrick.

"Johann Berg Gudmundsson is similar, but he has been training for a longer period with the first team. We have had to give him a longer period because he had niggles which we have been trying to clear up. But he might have a chance of at least being involved.

"Chris Wood is similar to Robbie where we will have to make a decision how he is feeling and if he needs more training time because he hasn't had much at all and we've still got all these games coming up pretty thick and fast."

Brady has started just five league games in an injury-ravaged season but his future is at least secure as last month he signed a new one-year deal, Burnley unable to agree terms with fellow Dubliner Hendrick who is now a free agent.

Another Irishman on the move is former Premier League player Chris McCann, who has been released by Oldham. The 32-year-old made 15 appearances for Oldham in League Two last season but they have allowed him to move on.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have signed highly-rated Ireland U18 cap Cole Kiernan from their north-east rivals Sunderland, a big blow for the Black Cats.

"Cole was a player we wanted to sign a few years ago, and we're delighted to be able to bring him to the club now," Boro's head of academy Craig Hignett said.

Kiernan (18) qualified for Ireland through his grandfather and made his first appearance in the green shirt at U-18 level last year, a member of Andy Reid's squad, and his capture was seen as a significant coup for the FAI.