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Friday 02 Feb 2024
Northern Ireland players on the move in January transfer window

Several Northern Ireland players were on the move during the January transfer window.

Probably the most high profile move was West Ham United striker Callum Marshall making a loan switch to EFL Championship outfit West Bromwich Albion until the end of the season.

“It’s a big step for me,” said Marshall, who is the subject of a new documentary produced by his parent club. “I know it’s a challenge moving up to the Championship from Under-21s football. I’m going to give it my all though and try to work my way into the squad and then the team.”

Also on the move was Crystal Palace defender Kofi Balmer who has joined League Two outfit AFC Wimbledon on loan until the end of the current campaign.

The former Ballymena United and Larne player, who returned to Palace in January following the completion of a five-month stint at Port Vale, admits he is excited by the prospect of being involved with the Dons over the coming months. 

“I can’t wait to get started, meet the lads and have a good run-in,” he told the AFC Wimbledon website. “This was an opportunity that was too good to turn down.

“The loan at Port Vale was a good experience. Whether things go well or bad you have to take things as they come."

“I enjoyed my time there,” he added. “Unfortunately though it didn’t work out as well as I would have wanted.”

Meanwhile, teenage Glentoran winger Rhys Walsh will join Daniel Ballard and Trai Hume at Sunderland after being snapped up on a two-and-a-half year deal by the Championship side.

Sunderland Academy manager Robin Nicholls revealed that the 17-year-old, who made a total of eight first team appearances for the east Belfast side, had been on their radar for a while.

“Rhys is a player we have coveted for some time and he spent a period with us on trial earlier in 2023,” explained Nicholls. “He is an exciting forward who can operate on either wing or play centrally, and he will join our Under-18 set-up for the remainder of the season.”

Twenty-one year-old Everton midfielder Sean McAllister is to continue his football education with Inverness Caledonian Thistle after sealing a loan deal with the Scottish Championship side.

The former Northern Ireland U19 international missed the opening months of the season through injury but since his return to action he has scored five goals in 10 outings for Everton’s U21 team.  

Elsewhere, Rotherham United striker Ciaran McGuckin has linked up with Dundalk on loan ahead of the new League of Ireland season.

The 20-year-old Leeds native, whose father was born in Belfast, has been a regular in the Rotherham United squad this term though he has managed to make only five first team appearances for the Championship outfit. 

“When I heard that Dundalk might be an option, I got a call going with the gaffer and it went from there,” he told

“He explained everything to me, how he sees me fitting in here and I think I’m really suited to how Dundalk play,” added the U21 international.

“I’m a striker who can play down the middle or in off the left or right. I press from the front, I work hard, I like to run in behind and, hopefully, I can score lots of goals.”

One of McGuckin’s international team-mates, Birmingham City defender Tommy Fogarty, is also heading out on loan, after penning a short-term contract with National League team Ebbsfleet United until mid-April, while former Liverpool keeper Liam Hughes has signed an 18-month deal with FC Haka of Finland.

Other players to head out on loan during the transfer window include Charlie Lindsay (Derby County to Glentoran), Brendan Hamilton (Aberdeen to Banks O’Dee), Gallagher Lennon (St Mirren to Dumbarton), Barry Baggley (Fleetwood Town to Waterford) and MaKenzie Kirk (Hearts to Hamilton Academical).