Cork midfielder Conor Hourihane heading to Swansea on loan

Bandon native departs Aston Villa in search of more game-time
Cork midfielder Conor Hourihane heading to Swansea on loan

Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane celebrates scoring a goal last September. Picture: Will Oliver/NMC Pool/PA Wire. 

CORK soccer star Conor Hourihane is moving to Swansea City for the rest of the season. 

The Bandon native will switch to the Championship from Aston Villa, after struggling for game-time in the Premier League campaign, making just three starts. 

The Republic of Ireland midfielder will turn 30 at the start of February and had interest from Bournemouth and Middlesbrough as well as Swansea.

Initially moving to England to play with Sunderland, Hourihane had to drop down to League Two and work his way through the ranks to make it to the top. 

Captaining Plymouth Argyle was followed by a hugely successful stint at Barnsley and then the switch to Villa. He scored in all four of the main divisions across the water.

"Personally I would like Conor to stay," Villa boss Dean Smith said at the club's press conference on Tuesday. "He's been to see me a few times and intimated to me that he wants to go out and play games, which is one of the reasons why I love Conor so much.

He's never happy when he's not playing games and he's intimated to me that he wants to go out and play games.

"We'll look at the possibility but it's got to be right for Conor and the football club as well.

"It would be a loan to the end of the season to get him back playing and get him back to us."

Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

COVID ISSUES

Smith admits Aston Villa were taken aback by the speed of the coronavirus outbreak at the club.

Villa return to Premier League action at Manchester City on Wednesday for the first time since New Year's Day.

Nine players and five staff tested positive for Covid-19 and the club's Bodymoor Heath training ground was closed.

"Experience has taught us that it can hit you very quickly, but I'm very thankful that our doctor was quick to deal with it," Smith was quoted as saying on the official Villa website.

"I'm not going to make any excuses; the players are ready to play. We are looking forward to this game and we don't feel that we are handicapped.

"We'll have had a three-day build-up for the Manchester City game. The first day was almost like the kids' first day back in the playground and they were full of energy and enthusiasm.

"It was good to see them back on the grass again. They looked really bright, so I'm hopeful for a bright return.

"I'm not going to make any excuses for the issues. My players are ready to play against Manchester City."

Villa fielded a side of youth-team players in the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool on January 8 before having Premier League games against Tottenham and Everton postponed.

Smith's side now find themselves at least two games behind the rest of the Premier League and four fixtures behind some teams.

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