CORK CITY manager John Caulfield has conceded that he will not be able to stand in the way of Sean Maguire should an English club make an exceptional offer for the striker.
Maguire scored 28 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Cork in 2016 and he has continued that form in 2017, hitting the back of the net 11 times in 13 league appearances. His performances for the Leesiders have caught the attention of Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, who said that he is monitoring the 23-year-old and speculation has intensified over the former West Ham striker’s future.
Maguire is rumoured to have a release clause of just €150k – a relatively tiny fee – and he has been strongly linked with clubs in England’s Championship, including Preston North End.
During his four years at the helm of Cork City, Caulfield has seen players come and go, with Brian Lenihan’s departure for Hull City in 2014 perhaps the most high profile loss.
Despite the difficulty that may accompany the loss of Maguire mid-way through the season, the former Avondale United manager takes a realistic view of the situation that faces him and his club when it comes to retaining their best players.
“Whether he has a release clause or not, no League of Ireland club can stop a player from going [to England] based on the wages that can be afford across channel and that’s the bottom line,” Caulfield said in an interview with Newstalk.
“At the end of the day, players can go to the Championship in England, the Premiership and even some League One clubs where they can earn five, six, seven, eight times more than what they can here. That’s the reality.”
Caulfield also touched upon the character of his star striker, who joined the Leesiders when his career was at a low ebb, and stressed that his “fantastic attitude” sets him apart.
“He’s a phenomenal guy and when I met him two years ago he was on his knees,” said the Cork boss.
“He had been released by West Ham and was back in Ireland. He’d had a small stint at Accrington Stanley and had been two years back. He ended up at Dundalk and he couldn’t get a game. He couldn’t even make the bench in the [FAI] Cup final that season against us.
“His confidence was shattered and he really wasn’t in a good place. But what he has is a fantastic attitude and determination. He’s a phenomenal person, a lovely guy.
“I had no promises or magic wand, but said that he would have opportunities if he worked hard and so it proved.”