Conor Clifford released by Chelsea
Republic of Ireland under-21 midfielder Conor Clifford has been released on a free transfer by Chelsea.
Clifford and four other young players were released by the Premier League club after failing to make the grade. Chelsea head of youth development Neil Bath explained why they left the club. “There were two sides to it,” Bath told Chelsea’s official website. “There was a group of players whose contracts were up, and we felt it appropriate to tell them now that they will not be offered new deals. We made a decision from a welfare point of view to tell them early, and pay their contracts up early to put them in a position where they are not in the same situation as many other players at the end of the season, where there could be a couple of hundred guys in the summer looking for new clubs. It’s a good aftercare thing to do for boys that have been with us a long time, and it gives them the opportunity to go and seek opportunities for their next move. Between the staff here we have good contacts within the game and we look to use those to help the boys on their way.”
Clifford was signed by Chelsea back in 2007 from Crumlin United, but never played a senior game at Stanford Bridge. A series of loan moves to League One clubs Plymouth Argyle, Notts County, Yeovil Town, and Portsmouth saw Clifford fail to live up to the high expectations set when he captained the Chelsea youths to the FA Youth Cup in 2010. The Dubliner has 12 Ireland under-21 caps to date, and has also been in a number of senior squads under Giovanni Trapattoni, but now finds himself searching for a new club.
Bath had positive things to say about Clifford’s time with Chelsea: “Conor came over from Ireland at Under-15. We’ve always given him support and help that comes with bringing someone from abroad without their immediate friends and family with them. I hope to keep in contact with him. He had a fantastic time in the Youth Cup for us, and his challenge is to adjust from youth to men’s football. He’s gaining some fantastic experience with the Irish national team and he’s a gusty, determined, hard-tackling player, who has scored a lot of goals. I hope a club goes with him.”