Scunthorpe United manager Alan Knill has revealed he is close to signing young Irish players Mark Hughes and Jordan Keegan after the pair impressed on trial in Ireland
Keegan began his career in England when he was offered a schoolboy contract by Southampton at the age of 16, but he returned home when the Saints didn’t renew his contract. He had a short spell at St. Patrick’s Athletic before joining Monaghan United at the start of the current campaign. Several eye catching performances for Roddy Collins’ side saw scouts from Crystal Palace and Kilmarnock take interest in the midfielder.
Hughes is a 19-year-old central midfielder, and impressed Knill during the pre-season tour of Ireland, scoring the only goal in Scunthorpe's 1-0 victory over Leinster Senior League side Wayside Celtic.
The Irish duo have been on trial at Glanford Park during pre-season and were both asked to stay on to train with the club ahead of the new season. Speaking after Friday evening’s friendly with a Manchester United XI, Iron boss Knill confirmed he is optimistic that the teenagers will join the club in the next week. "I think we're really close with them," Knill told the club's official website. "It's not quite signed but we've got some draft contacts and it's just a matter of time really. Hopefully it will all be done early this week.”
The Scunthorpe manager went on to comment about how both Hughes and Keegan have showed great maturity and composure on the ball during their time in North Lincolnshire. "For 19 and 20, they are pretty good players and showed no fear whatsoever," he added. "Both came on and really wanted the ball. They did well and they're ones for the future. We want a production line of players who all want the ball and who are technically good."
If the Dublin-born duo do put pen to paper at Glanford Park then they will join a healthy Irish contingent at the club with Jimmy Ryan, Michael Collins, Robbie Gibbons and Niall Canavan already in the ranks of the 2008-09 League One Play-off winners.