Rovers steeled for Clarke bids
Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley is unsure if the in-form winger Trevor Clarke will still be with the Hoops when the English transfer window closes next month as interest in the U19 cap hots up.
St Kevin's Boys product Clarke, back in Dublin with Rovers after a spell with Middlesbrough, has been one of the outstanding young players in the league this term.
Scouts have been flocking to see the 19-year-old at Rovers this season and, while a series of moves within the League of Ireland are expected before the domestic transfer window closes on Monday, Rovers are happy to play the waiting game with Clarke and see what offers, if any, come their way.
"There is massive interest in him," says manager Bradley, his side in good form ahead of tomorrow's Dublin derby with Bohemians thanks to Sunday's win away to Dundalk.
"We're getting phone calls every day about him. They've got five or six weeks left of their (UK) transfer window, a long, long time to go in terms of activity for players going from here over there.
"If he keeps performing like he did on Sunday and like he has been, teams are going to be interested. We can't stop that, that's the way it goes, we've had a lot of interest," added Bradley, unable to predict if Clarke will still be a Hoop in a month's time.
"I honestly don't know. If it comes and he has to go, any player, we'd shake their hand and say best of luck. There is no point in trying to do anything else. We'd all shake hands and move on but I honestly can't say if he'll be here or not at the end of the window," he says.
Rovers, apart from their Europa League loss to Czech side Mlada Boleslav, have been on a good run of form, in no small part down to striker Gary Shaw.
And Bradley feels that while Shaw's game has improved due to changes in his training regime, Shaw has also come on after working with Robbie Keane, who has been training with Rovers as he still tries to sort out his next career move, though Bradley again insisted that Keane won't become a Hoop, with Birmingham City still his likely destination.
"Robbie has definitely helped Gary with little tips and little movements, little ways of putting centre halves off their game, little tricks of the trade that he knows so well and does so well," says Bradley. "He's been excellent with the young boys and Gary as well. I don't think it's been a coincidence."
Tomorrow's derby at home to Bohemians is the focus for Rovers but Bradley still expects to do some business in terms of transfers.
Dean Carpenter and Darren Clarke (brother of current Rovers man Trevor) are ready to sign for the Hoops from non-league side Collinstown, Carpenter joining the first-team squad while Clarke will go out on loan to gain experience.
Darren Meenan, meanwhile, who has been out of favour and did not travel for last week's Europa League tie in the Czech Republic, is expected to leave.
"We've got to be right, we've got to respect them," Bradley says of Bohs, who are hoping to avoid a third successive league loss.
"I watched them against Derry, Akinade came on and they looked dangerous, I'm sure he'll feature against us. We've got to be right."