WITH DERRY City's pre-season training programme about to get underway, it appears Derry boss, Stephen Kenny, may be forced to look beyond the boundaries of the North-West in his search for new playing staff.
The Dubliner had been confident of producing a team capable of competing in next season's Premier Division, but the loss of both Mark Farren and Mark McChrystal, appears to have thrown a spanner into the works at the Brandywell club.
Kenny, who has returned to Dublin for a break having spent the festive season in Fahan, was unavailable for comment yesterday, but it's clear that the signing of a new striker and, indeed, at least one experienced central defensive player, could be playing on his mind following the opening of the Transfer Window.
The Dubliner is believed to be keen to build on last season's success, particularly in regard to his "all local policy," a move which has been warmly embraced by the Brandywell Faithful.
But it is known that his search for players has not been restricted in any way by his Board of Directors and having scoured the North-West for potential talent, sources close to the manager are suggesting that experienced strikers or defenders have been hard to come by.
The Derry midfield area, however, appears on paper at least, to be quite a strong department with a comfortable mix of youth and experience which had not been the case last season.
In fact, had James McClean or Patrick McEleney struggled on the flanks, cover had been limited. So the signing of Stephen McLaughlin from Finn Harps and, it's believed, the expected arrival of Ruaidhri Higgins, will provide additional options.
New Role For McEleney?
McLaughlin's arrival will certainly release McEleney into a more favoured free supporting role to the front-line, but the question of who he will be supporting remains in doubt.
It's also been widely speculated that Gareth McGlynn could be another player to return to the Brandywell following his one year sojourn in the company of Higgins at Bohemians, but nothing appears to be clear-cut on that front.
And given that McGlynn is widely recognised as an experienced attacking midfield player, one can only wonder how many such players can be accommodated at the Brandywell.
That said, the Inch man has a one year option in his contract at Dalymount Park while Sligo Rovers remain in the wings awaiting the player's decision on his future with the Dublin club.
But it is known that Kenny is interested in adding McGlynn to his 2011 squad shoud the player wish to return to his former stomping ground for kick-off in early March.
Before Christmas Kenny admitted that he was "carefully considering his options" in relation to potential new signings, adding that he had hoped to "sign six new players" before the Transfer Window closed in late February.
The Derry boss has already brought young striker, Sean McCarron, through into the first team squad and, of course, signed McLaughlin and while speculation had been widespread in relation to the possible return of Brandywell favourite, Ken Oman, such talk has been dismissed by the team boss.
Finn Harps' captain, Packie Mailey and Coleraine centre-half and former Derry and Harps defender, Marc Mukendi, have also been linked to the local club but, as it is, the Derry boss has not yet acted officially, opting to continue his negotiations with other potential candidates who would consider a move to the Lone Moor Road venue.
Similar difficulties remain in the front line with last season's top hitman, Mark Farren, currently recuperating from a major operation. Commenting before his operation, Mark made it clear that he would require a break of at least six months before making any decision on his future while Stephen Parkhouse, has undergone another operation in a last ditch attempt to sort out a problematic knee problem.
Kenny has certainly heaped praise on young McCarron as a potential to quality striker, but would it be fair to place all the pressure on the teenager's shoulders as he kicks-off his first full season at senior level?
Institute's Joe McCready has also been linked to his home town club but, it is understood, little progress appears to have been made on that front, Kenny no doubt concerned about the lack of experience in that particular department.
Five New Faces to be
added to squad
As it stands, the Derry boss hopes to add an additional five new players to his squad for the 2011 season, but with experienced defenders and strikers in limited supply, particularly on the local front, it's fair to suggest that Kenny may be forced to look elsewhere to fill those vital positions.