Kieran Sadlier - the former transfer target who Portsmouth will hope didn't slip through the net when they face Doncaster

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The early success of Ronan Curtis meant there were plenty of approving calls for Pompey to again dip into the Irish market. 

Following his arrival from Derry City in June 2018, the winger opened his Fratton Park career in scintillating fashion.

After 16 appearances, Curtis had recorded six goals and six assists – the latest coming when he teed-up Gareth Evans in the Blues’ 1-0 win at Bradford on November 3.

The fee of £100,000 looked a bargain and supporters wondered how many other gems the other side of the Irish Sea could be unearthed.

So when Kieran Sadlier was known to be on Kenny Jackett’s radar just days after that Valley Parade victory, it was another name to be excited about. 

The Sussex-born forward netted 26 times in 49 appearances for Cork in 2018, helping them finish second in the League of Ireland and runners-up in the FAI Cup. 

Kieran Sadlier   Picture: Marie Caley

Kieran Sadlier Picture: Marie Caley

Upon the expiry of his contract at Turner’s Cross, Sadlier was keen to return to England and have a second bite at the Football League.

He had plenty of options to choose from as a free agent and it was reported Pompey were front-runners to land him.

The Blues were unsuccessful, though, with Sadlier opting for League One rivals Doncaster and penning an 18-month deal.

Officially arriving at the Keepmoat Stadium on January 1, he was thrust into a side firmly pushing for promotion.

With the likes of Mallik Wilks and James Coppinger to compete against for a wing spot, Sadlier made 19 appearances and bagged three goals. 

Over the summer, Donny, of course, lost John Marquis to Pompey, while Wilks returned to parent-club Leeds.

That’s meant Sadlier’s been given a more prominent role for Darren Moore’s side this season – and he hasn’t looked back.

The former Republic of Ireland under-21 international has started nine of his 11 appearances to date and has already scored three times – including an impressive solo effort in the recent win against Peterborough.

Certainly he’s been a key cog for Rovers – who sit ninth in the table – and his performances have been catching the eye of Eire boss Mick McCarthy.

Sadlier prepares to take on the club he was once coveted by when the Blues travel to the Keepmoat on Saturday. 

It’s highly likely he’ll start against Jackett’s men, although he could be forced to operate as a makeshift striker rather than out wide with Niall Ennis and Kazaiah Sterling both injury doubts

But regardless of which position the former Peterborough man plays in, Pompey will be well aware he’s someone who can do damage in the final third.

And the Blues will be hoping he’s not one who slipped through the transfer net.