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Dundalk In Talks To Sign Irish Former Chelsea Wonderkid In Intriguing Move

Dundalk In Talks To Sign Irish Former Chelsea Wonderkid In Intriguing Move
By Gavan Casey

After an injury-plagued couple of years for captain Stephen O'Donnell, Dundalk are looking to reinforce their central midfield.

Dan McDonnell writes in the Irish Independent that the League of Ireland champions are in talks with former Chelsea youth captain and Ireland underage international Conor Clifford about a move to Oriel Park.

McDonell reports that the one-time Irish youth sensation is exploring his options in England, with former club Crawley Town interested in accruing his services once more. Stephen Kenny and Dundalk, however, spoke with Clifford both before Christmas and just yesterday, and Clifford is interested by the prospect of returning to Ireland for a 'fresh start'.

The former youth international was called up to the Ireland senior squad in both 2011 and 2012, but currently plays for Boreham Wood in the English seventh tier. There, he features alongside Angelo Balanta, who Football Manager players might remember as the pacy young Colombian winger who was highly touted when QPR came into money a few seasons back.

His career has been a curious one; he starred alongside both Richie Towell and Andy Boyle at Crumlin United before departing for Chelsea in 2007. He went on to captain the Blues to their first FA Youth Cup since 1961, scoring the decisive goal in that 2010 final.

Despite underage success at the Bridge, international call-ups and and a new contract which extended his Chelsea stay until 2013, Clifford became a perpetual loanee, joining a host of English lower league sides for three years following his Youth Cup success. He was released by Chelsea in January 2013, joining Leicester on a permanent basis.

Having failed to make a competitive appearance for Leicester, spells at Southend and Barnet followed, before Clifford joined seventh tier Boreham Wood in 2015 while still aged just 23.

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Two years later, the player who was once described as a "leader for such a young man," and "a tremendous character" by Peter Reid at Plymouth Argyle, might well be on his way back home, with his prime years still ahead of him.

It would, at least, be a very intriguing move for both player and club should it come to pass.

[Irish Independent]

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