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Preston sign Graham Burke

Preston have confirmed the signing of Graham Burke.

The Shamrock Rovers star will join the Championship club after the Dublin club’s clash against Limerick on Friday night.

Nottingham Forest, Brentford, and Blackburn had been linked with moves for the League of Ireland star, but Preston have won the race for his signature.

Preston have often turned to Ireland for transfer bargains in recent seasons, and the fee for Burke is rumoured to be in the region of €300,000.

Burke made two official appearances for the Republic of Ireland earlier this month, scoring his first international goal against the USA in Dublin.

Preston’s special advisor Peter Ridsdale was reportedly in attendance at that game, and will have been impressed with Burke’s performance.

“It was brilliant to play for Shamrock Rovers, the biggest club in Ireland,” Burke said.

“I want to thank Stephen Bradley for bringing me here, for showing so much faith in me, letting me express myself and making me a better player.

“It’s been brilliant and it’s got me to where I am now. I think I’ve matured and grown in everything since I’ve been here.

“The journey has been unbelievable. It doesn’t happen, the international call up and everything, without the gaffer and everybody believing in me.

“I thank the club a lot for putting its time and trust in me and I thank the fans for supporting me.”

Burke has previously played in England with Aston Villa, Tranmere Rovers (loan), and Notts County.

He was regarded as one of Villa’s most promising academy stars, and finished as top scorer in the 2013 NextGen Series youth tournament, scoring both goals in the final as Villa beat Chelsea 2-0 to be crowned European champions.

The Irish striker finished as top scorer in a tournament containing the likes of Kingsley Coman and Raheem Sterling, and Burke seemed destined for big things at the Premier League club.

He made his first team debut for the clarets and blues against Tranmere Rovers in 2012, but struggled to break into the first team squad under Paul Lambert, as Villa battled to avoid relegation season by season.

Burke eventually joined Notts County, where he made 52 appearances before falling out of favour due to a managerial change at the English club.

The former Belvedere youth returned to Ireland to join Shamrock Rovers ahead of last season, and notched five league goals in his debut season in Tallaght.

He ended the season with nine goals in all competitions, despite injuries and ill-discipline, but has moved to the next level this season.

Earlier this season the former Aston Villa starlet became the first Shamrock Rovers player to score four goals in one game since Stephen Geoghegan against Waterford in 1992, and he has scored several stunning strikes from distance.

His eye-catching performances caught the attention of Martin O’Neill, who called the attacker up to the international squad.

He will join international teammates Sean Maguire, Daryl Horgan, Alan Browne, and Callum Robinson at Deepdale, as well as fellow Irishmen Andy Boyle, Eoin Doyle, Kevin O’Connor, and Adam O’Reilly.

Sean Maguire – whose career followed a similar trajectory – has signed a new deal earlier this week to extend his stay with the Championship club.

Burke will be hoping to make a similar impact to Maguire at Deepdale, and will hope that his move to the Championship will further bolster his international aspirations.

The prospect of seeing Burke, Maguire, and Robinson forming the Preston attack is an exciting one.

Burke’s international teammate Greg Cunningham left Preston today, moving to newly promoted Premier League club Cardiff City for an undisclosed fee.

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