Blackburn Rovers and Republic of Ireland central defender Eddie Nolan has signed a loan deal with Preston North End. The deal will run until January 1st and he has the option of signing a permanent deal with the club if both sides are happy with the way things work out during the coming months.

The man who has brought Eddie to Deepdale is Alan Irvine. The former Everton, Crystal Palace and Blackburn Rovers player has been a long time admirer of Nolan. Irvine was a vital member of the Blackburn Rovers team which won the Premiership in 1992. After he retired at the end of that season he later became academy director at Blackburn Rovers before returning to Everton and he was assistant manager to David Moyes until November, 2007 before deciding to accept the position of Preston North End manager. He did try to bring Eddie to Everton when he was at Goodison Park but now he has finally got his man.

Preston started the season well, including an away victory against Ipswich Town on the opening day of the season but four defeats in a row caused by abject defending has forced Irvine’s hand as the back four’s performances have been less than satisfactory. Eddie, who is now 20 years old can play at centre back or right back. In 2007 he played 2 games with Stockport County on loan before playing 12 games with Hartlepool the same season. He made his full debut with Blackburn in the UEFA Cup game against AS Nancy on December 13th, 2006.

He joined Rovers from the local club, Waterford Bohemians. His last game for that club was the Under 14 Cup final against Ferrybank in Ozier Park, a game which saw him receive a rather harsh red card. His younger brother Brian is one of the hottest properties in local football at the present time.

Irish captain

Eddie Nolan has been capped for his country at all levels and he is the current captain of the Republic of Ireland Under 21 team. On Monday of last week he played a staring role as the side managed by Don Givens recorded a comprehensive away victory over Lithuania. Goals from Jimmy Ryan, Owen Garvan and an OG gave the team a superb away victoty. First team football will prove to be very beneficial for the the player who hails from Pine Mews in Waterford City. The move To Preston is an ideal one because both Blackburn and Preston are in Lanashire, an area he has settled into during his stay in England.

Eddie was on the bench for Preston on Saturday and his presence certainly paid off on his new colleagues because Preston defeated red hot favourites Reading at Deepdale. Stephen Hunt had put the Royals in front from the penalty spot but Nolan’s new team fought back and they won the game 2-1. First win in five games for them and no doubt Eddie will believe that he has made the right decision to link up with one of the oldest clubs in British football. His squad number at Preston is 27.

Rave reviews for John O’Shea

Most observers claimed that the Republic of Ireland were somewhat fortunate to record a 1-0 victory over Cyprus on Wednesday last in Croke Park (I still can not get used to saying that) to remain hot on the heels of Italy as the race for a World Cup place hots up. Some of the players were slated by journalists but one of the players who came out of the game with glowing tributes was the Ferrybank native John O’Shea. The Manchester United defender was winning his 49th cap and this is what three writers wrote after the game.

Paul Lennon (Irish Daily Star) “The Manchester United star’s partnership with Richard Dunne continues to blossom”

Daniel McDonnell (Irish Independent) “A quieter evening for a player growing into his centre-half role and although not helped by the increasingly lax work in front of him, coped admirably with much of the oncoming traffic on the night”.

Colin Young (Irish Daily Mail) “Trapattoni will be hoping he and Dunne remain fit as their partnership goes from strength to strength. O’Shea was the rock beside the blocker”.

For what it is worth this would be my report on the display of John O’Shea on Wednesday last. “The tall Waterford native lit up a very gloomy night. He was immense and stood shoulder to shoulder with Richard Dunne as the tanned bodies of the visitors to a tension filled stadium poured forward. Looking forward to your 50th cap John”.