Sunday 16 December 2018

MLS on radar for St Ledger

Free agent considering short-term States move to revive stalled career

Sean St Ledger
Sean St Ledger

AN EVER-PRESENT for Ireland at the last European Championship finals, Seán St Ledger admits he may have to get back to basics and go on trial with a club before he can get his career moving again.

Now 29, St Ledger has not played in a game of any consequence since last November, when he started for Ireland in that 0-0 friendly draw away to Poland and has been without a club since he was released by Leicester City in May.

A hoped-for move to Championship club Huddersfield Town last month fell through due to a severe case of bad timing as their then manager, Mark Robins, was sacked before he could complete a deal to bring in St Ledger so the defender has been left in limbo and without a club.

A move to the USA could come through, even a short-term deal until the end of the MLS season so he could possibly join compatriots Robbie Keane and Andy O'Brien in America.

But he knows that despite his CV - 37 senior caps - he still needs to prove himself in trials to win over a club manager.

"I am still without a club and it looks like I will have to go on trial, but I am fine with that. Beggars can't be choosers," St Ledger told The Herald.


"I need to go and prove myself, go and play somewhere so I can try and get back to where I was. It's tough out there at the moment and the financial situation across the scene in England isn't great.

"There have been a few sniffs from the USA so I would consider that but their transfer window closes next week. I could possibly go there, play the few few months of their season to prove myself and come back to England. It's a waiting game and it's frustrating.

"It's all about budgets and financial fair play now. Managers have spent their budgets and if they bring in a new player, someone else has to leave so they can balance the books. That's the way it is. I have never seen so many younger players, and older professionals, out of work in all the time I have been playing. It's a lot more difficult to get a club and a contract now."

Released by Leicester City at the end of last season - an injury - scarred campaign for the player as he managed only two appearances all season as the Foxes won promotion to the Premier League - St Ledger spent the summer trying to get himself fit and in a position to earn a contract.

The offer of a trial with Huddersfield could have led to a season of Championship football but it ended in disappointment.

"I had done okay there at Huddersfield and the Thursday before the season started, they offered me a contract," says St Ledger.

"I wasn't happy with some of the terms of the contract and, anyway, the first game of the season on the Saturday would have been too soon for me so I didn't sign.

"We agreed to leave it for then and come back to the club on the Monday to sort out the contact and hopefully sign.

"I was happy enough with that situation but then they lost on the Saturday and sacked Mark Robins so I was left out in the cold. It wasn't great timing.


"The club said they still wanted to sign me but wanted to wait until the new manager came in, but that took longer than expected. It all started to drag on, I was still training with them but there was no progress. Then, on transfer deadline day, they signed another defender so that was me gone."

In that need to find a club, international football has been pushed down the list of priorities.

Established in the team under Giovanni Trapattoni, St Ledger is off the radar now having missed the last seven Ireland games, and the fact that fellow defenders who are established with their clubs this season - such as Paul McShane and Damien Delaney - were only on standby for the recent games against Oman and Georgia underlines how far the club-less St Ledger has to go.


"That shows how much ground I have to make up. When lads like Paul McShane and Ciarán Clark are not even in the squad," he says. "But I can't even look at that now, I have to find myself a club before I can even be considered for my country again.

"I am not giving up on Ireland - not by any means - and things in football can change very quickly.

"You can't predict anything in this game - who'd have thought that Shay Given would be back in the Irish squad? So all I can do is take things game by game.

"I missed the Oman game but I saw the Georgia match. It was a bit like the Armenia game at the start of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, a case of getting the win on board and if we get to France 2016 by not playing particularly well away from home but getting the wins, I don't think people will care once we are there in France."

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