It’s set to be a busy summer for Northern Ireland’s international players, with plenty facing potential transfers ahead of the new season.
Four have already made their moves, Daniel Ballard the latest after his loan from Arsenal to Championship side Millwall was confirmed on Thursday. Last season, Ballard starred in Blackpool’s run to League One play-off success but will now play against the Tangerines in England’s second tier next season.
Also already having swapped clubs are Kyle Lafferty (Kilmarnock to Anorthosis Famagusta), Shane Lavery (Linfield to Blackpool) and Paul Smyth (QPR to Leyton Orient).
So who else in the Northern Ireland panel is set to join them on the move?
Here are ten players who could soon be swapping clubs…
The Northern Ireland midfielder could soon join international team-mate Ballard as a new arrival at The Den. Saville made the opposite move three years ago but, as he enters the final year of his contract in the north east, his return to London is expected to be confirmed imminently. Saville played over 100 games for Boro, scoring 12 goals and even started as many as 35 Championship games last season.
The latest transfer talk would suggest the up-and-coming midfield star will spend next season either at Celtic Park or in the English Championship. Given his performances in the Saints’ cup-double season and while making his international breakthrough, it’s absolutely no surprise that there seems set to be a keen battle for his signature. If any of those clubs are to prize him away from his current side though, they’ll have to stump up the cash. He’s got another two years on his current deal and St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown has already said he’s eyeing a club record fee of upwards of £1.75m to let McCann leave.
It looks certain that Manchester United hopeful Galbraith will look to take a significant step into senior football away from Old Trafford this season. League One side Sunderland are the team tipped to bring the 20-year-old in on a short-term deal but it’s understood that there are other third tier and even English second tier sides keen on securing his signature.
The third member of Northern Ireland’s promising midfield trio is also set for a switch this summer as McCalmont (21) is thought to be heading out on loan again. Having played only two senior games for Leeds, he had a successful spell at Oldham Athletic last term, scoring eight League Two goals. He’ll hope to at least step up to League One next season as he aims to prove his worth to Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.
It’s absolutely no surprise whatsoever that Michael O’Neill’s Stoke should appear more than once throughout these transfer rumours, given the manager’s history with the Northern Ireland players. Evans is now a free agent after leaving Blackburn Rovers, having played only 22 Championship games across the last two seasons due to injury. Stoke and Cardiff are the two sides to be linked with him so far.
Charles made his international debut earlier this year and is another player set to spark a bidding war after his goal-scoring heroics last term. He netted 19 League One goals in 42 games for Accrington and has been linked with a move away since midway through the campaign. Newly-promoted Premier League side Brentford have been touted, as have Championship clubs Nottingham Forest, Cardiff City and Derby County and League One team Rotherham. Hull City were initially said to be interested but are now unlikely to make a move with Stanley holding out for over £1m for the 25-year-old.
Goalkeeper Trevor Carson is set to reverse his last transfer, if the latest rumours are to be believed. He has another two years to run on his contract at Fir Park but started only 12 Scottish Premiership games last term as Liam Kelly arrived on loan from QPR in January. With Well reportedly eyeing up a permanent deal for Kelly or former Newport County stopper Tom King, it has been reported that 33-year-old Carson is keen to return to Hartlepool, who secured promotion back to League Two last term.
The 23-year-old was Celtic’s penalty-saving hero in the Scottish Cup final last year and also started five Scottish Premiership matches but, with new boss Ange Postecoglou expected to bring in a new number one, it has been reported that Hazard is heading out for his fifth loan spell from Celtic Park. Two of those were to then Championship side Dundee in the 19/20 season and now it has been reported that boss James McPake – a once-capped Northern Ireland international – is keen to bring Hazard back after sealing promotion to the Premiership.
Ferguson is definitely on the move, having left Millwall after seven seasons at The Den. Having started only two Championship games last year, he said the time was right to move on. He is currently a free agent but there has as yet been little talk about where the 29-year-old will end up, with Ferguson saying only that he has left it all in the hands of his agent.
After his loan spell at Hull City came to an end, Gavin Whyte is now back at Cardiff City, where he’ll hope to be given another chance to prove he can hack it in the Championship. The former Crusaders star is yet to score in 32 league games for the Bluebirds since his 2019 move from Oxford United, which was thought to be worth around £2m. He netted four times for Hull in League One during a short-term loan in the second half of last season but came off the bench as often as he started. It’s anyone’s guess where his future lies or whether or not relatively new Cardiff boss will give him a chance at his current club.