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A number of Irish players lined out for their clubs in friendly matches, as preparations for the upcoming season continue in England and Scotland

ANALYSIS
By Ryan Bailey

Many young Irish players looked to impress their club managers in pre-season friendlies, while more experienced names looked to hold down their places against the young pretenders as teams in England and Scotland continue to prepare for the upcoming league campaign.

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
 
Ian Harte scored a superb free kick to give Reading a first-half lead in Portugal when they took on CDR Quarteirense but Brian McDermott’s side were held to a 1-1 draw. Noel Hunt also played 45 minutes for the Royals.

Promising Ireland under-21 international Robbie Brady continued to impress on Manchester United’s pre-season tour playing in the unfamiliar left back position as the Red Devils defeated Amazulu FC.

Irish trio Shane Long, Simon Cox and Steven Reid were all included in West Brom’s tour squad for their trip to Scandinavia. However, only Steven Reid played, getting half an hour in their 1-0 defeat to Malmo.

Everton’s Shane Duffy showed his huge potential with two impressive performances for the Toffees in the space of a couple of days. The 20-year-old defender featured in friendlies against Dundee United and Motherwell and scored his second senior goal for the Goodison Park side as they drew 1-1 with Motherwell. Seamus Coleman was also involved and provided the assist for Ross Barkley's winning goal against Dundee United on Thursday.

Richard Dunne, Enda Stevens, Ciaran Clark, Stephen Ireland and Samir Carruthers all got some game time as Aston Villa kicked off their USA tour with 1-0 victories over Philadephia Union and Chicago Fire. Shay Given also played his first game since Euro 2012 on Saturday evening in Chicago, keeping a clean sheet in the fixture.

Midfielder David Meyler played 90 minutes as Sunderland got their pre-season campaign off to a winning start on Sunday after they overcame Dutch side FC Groningen 3-2. Cork-born defender John Egan also featured during the game.

Meanwhile, Chris Hughton’s first game in charge of Norwich ended in defeat as the Canaries went down 3-2 to German side Hertha Berlin. Midfield duo Wes Hoolohan and Anthony Pilkington both played 45 minutes on their return to action.

Brian Murphy will be hoping to push Rob Green all the way for the number one shirt at QPR this season and he did his chances no harm with a composed performance as Queens Park Rangers hammered Kelantan 5-0 in Asia.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Stale Solbakken’s reign as Wolves manager got underway on Saturday when the newly-relegated side eased past Bray Wanderers in a 5-1 victory. Kevin Foley started at right back while Matt Doherty and Anthony Forde were given 45 minutes by the new boss. Forde assisted one of Wolves’ second half goals while Doherty got himself on the score sheet with a brilliant left-footed effort.

Winger Keith Treacy continued to prepare for the new season as he played the second half of Burnley’s 4-1 win over Altrincham, while Keith Andrews pulled on a Bolton Wanderers jersey for the first time since signing for the Trotters at the weekend.

Leon Best will want to show what Ireland are missing out on when the new season begins and the new Blackburn striker put in an eye-catching performance on Saturday as Rovers defeated Fleetwood 2-0.

Former Dundalk midfielder Daniel Kearns played the second half of Peterborough’s loss to Crawley Town, while Millwall were held to a scoreless draw by Shelbourne at Tolka Park but Irish internationals David Forde and Andy Keogh returned to the Lions line up.

LEAGUE ONE

Ireland under-21 international Mark Connolly played the full 90 minutes as Crawley were defeated by Peterborough, while former Bohemians striker Paddy Madden played the first half of Carlisle’s 5-0 win over Workington.

Madden set up the opening goal while Galway-born striker Alan Lee provided a brief cameo for Huddersfield as they were beaten by Guiseley.

Ireland veteran Kevin Kilbane made his Coventry City bow in their defeat to Inverness while goalkeeper Joe Murphy also featured for the Sky Blues in Scotland.

SCOTLAND

Niall McGinn made a truncated appearance for Aberdeen in their 5-1 win over Abroath.

Anthony Stokes scored for Celtic in their 2-1 win over VFR Aalen, but could do little as the Bhoys lost 4-0 to Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA. Gavin Gunning, Sean Dillon and Willo Flood each had decent run outs as Dundee United went down 1-0 to Everton.

Alan Maybury started for Hibernian as he looks to win a deal with Pat Fenlon's club, but could not help them defeat Belgian side OH Leuven. New signing Jonny Hayes impressed for Aberdeen on the right wing despite a 1-0 loss to Elgin City.

Darren Randolph pulled off some crucial saves to keep Everton at bay as Motherwell drew 1-1 with the Toffees. St Mirren captain Jim Goodwin did well in a holding role for the Buddes while David Van Zanten also stood out in a 1-0 win over local rivals Greenock Morton.

IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND

Goalkeeper: Darron Randolph (Motherwell)

Defenders:
David Van Zanten (St Mirren), Shane Duffy (Everton), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Ian Harte (Reading)

Midfielders:
Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen), David Meyler (Sunderland), Daniel Kearns (Peterborough), Seamus Coleman (Everton)

Forwards:
Leon Best (Blackburn), Anthony Stokes (Celtic)

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