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The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international is on the radar of a number of British clubs after a string of confident performances for Cork City

Brian Lenihan has been making waves in the League of Ireland with Cork City, where his consistently high-standard performances have attracted several notable suitors in the form of Premier League giants Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, among others.

"Everyone knows who has watched him," Cork boss John Caulfield told reporters. "Arsenal have, Hull have, we've realised that Manchester United have watched him, Tottenham, Everton and [Aston] Villa have watched him."

Here Goal takes an in-depth look at Lenihan and what the coming year could bring for the youngster...

PERFORMANCE THIS SEASON

Having patiently waited for his chance in the Cork City first team since joining in 2012, Brian Lenihan burst onto the scene in 2014 and has quickly established himself as one of the most prodigiously talented full backs in Ireland's domestic scene.

LENIHAN SET TO LEAVE CORK CITY
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The former College Corinthians youth initially joined the Leesiders as a central midfielder but has been moulded into a right back by new Cork boss John Caulfield and it is a position where he has flourished.

It came as a bit of a surprise when the then-untried 19-year-old was named in the starting XI in an unfamiliar position for Cork's opening league match of the season against 2013 champions St Patrick's Athletic, but Lenihan assuaged concerns with a resolute display.

He has since become a mainstay in the Leesiders' defence, where his attacking instincts and confidence in possession have not gone unnoticed and a call up to Noel King's Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad soon followed in May. Indeed, it was richly deserved and the defender picked up his first U-21 cap in a friendly game against the Qatar Olympic team.

Perhaps in keeping with the player's atypical career trajectory, Lenihan's seemingly exponential ascent has not been without its drawbacks, with the defender suffering a dangerous head injury against Bohemians in his last game for Cork. While challenging for an innocuous ball, Lenihan landed awkwardly and lost consciousness at Dalymount Park. A concussion ruled him out for two weeks but, to the relief of the club and supporters, no long-term damage was sustained.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

It seems likely that Lenihan will depart Turner's Cross for the Premier League, with Cork City manager John Caulfield resigning himself to losing the talented defender. The Leesiders have already rejected two bids from un-named Premier League clubs but negotiations are ongoing. "There is a lot of talking to be done," Caulfield told reporters. "But personally, do I expect that he will be gone across the channel in the next number of weeks? I expect that he will."

Certainly, Lenihan has not shied away from expressing his desire to secure a move to Britain amid increasing speculation. "I want to play in England and I want to play at the highest level possible," he said in a recent interview with City Edition, the Cork City matchday programme.

Among the Premier League clubs that have watched Lenihan this season are Arsenal and Manchester United, while Tottenham, Everton and Hull City have all sent club representatives to watch the 20-year-old this season. Aston Villa are also said to be interested, with Roy Keane having cast his eye over the defender.

A GOOD 2014-15 WOULD BE...

...the completion of a long-term deal at a Premier League club in order to further facilitate his rise to prominence.

If Lenihan can remain free from injury and secure a move to Britain with any of his reported suitors, the next step for the player will be to establish himself in the squad. However, it is probable that he will have to bide his time with the U-21 developmental squad or perhaps find himself farmed out on loan to garner further experience.

Like Seamus Coleman and James McClean before him, the road to becoming a Premier League regular is long and arduous, but ultimately achievable and Lenihan will be keen to emulate their journey.

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