Reading’s Bennett: Irish league stars good enough for Premiership

Bennett told the Reading Evening Chronicle: “A lot of Irish players are coming over now and showing they can make the transition.

“There’s no question that the standard of football is unbelievable at the top end of the Irish league.

“But it’s a strange situation. On one hand you have my record transfer going through, but at the same time there are top-quality players looking for new contracts.

“Now it’s all about the grass roots for Irish clubs. The days of signing players have gone. It’s about bringing up your own talent.

“I’m 25 but I got my education first. I have a degree in business and marketing which is always something to fall back on.

“I suppose I’m a bit more mature than some of the youngsters who come over here.

“Myself and Kevin were talking about this. I’m not sure I would have liked it at the age of 18 or 19.

“It’s tough going for them when they’re so young and away from home. But I suppose it’s hard to pass up some of the opportunities on offer.”

“Whoever you sign, there’s always a grey area,” argued director of football Nick Hammond. “It’s always a bit of a gamble. But we have every confidence Alan will make it.

“He wasn’t on anyone else’s radar and we had kept a close eye on him. He’s a strong personality and our type of player.

“We’ve taken Shane and Kevin from Cork and they’ve done really well, although they haven’t reached their full potential yet.

“It’s the same with Alan. He’s that little bit older but, as a centre-half, his best years are ahead of him.

“It’s a record deal for the League of Ireland and we think it’s worth it.”