CITY SEEK £350K

Airtricity League Premier Division, Brandywell 8-7-2011'Derry City vs Shamrock Rovers'Derry City's James McClean and Pat Sullivan of Shamrock Rovers. 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Margaret McLaughlin
Airtricity League Premier Division, Brandywell 8-7-2011'Derry City vs Shamrock Rovers'Derry City's James McClean and Pat Sullivan of Shamrock Rovers. 'Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Margaret McLaughlin

DERRY City is understood to have received a bid of £250,000 for left winger, James McClean, but the Brandywell club’s valuation of the player is thought to be closer to £350,000, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

It’s understood the Brandywell club’s chairman, Mr. Philip O’Doherty, has been contacted by Peterborough United’s Director of Football, Barry Fry, over the weekend.

And the pair will meet face-to-face to discuss the issue tomorrow (Wednesday) in the U.K.

It’s also understood that the English Championship club, managed by Darren Ferguson, son of Manchester United boss, Sir Alex, are keen to sign the left-sided midfielder, but Derry’s valuation of the Creggan Heights man is believed to be north of that figure and, indeed, much closer to £350,000.

While I failed to make contact with the Derry chairman yesterday, it has also become clear that other cross-Channel clubs have now expressed an interest in not just McClean, but another few members of the Derry City team which defeated Shamrock Rovers on Friday night.

Widespread Interest

In fact, with representatives from Reading, Peterborough and Wigan present at the Lone Moor Road venue last weekend, that interest does not come as a major surprise given the individual performances of several of the young players involved.

McClean, of course, has been the centre of attention for the past few months but telephone calls have been received in relation to the age details of a number of other players and, no doubt, Brandywell boss Stephen Kenny will be pulling his hair out with the news that he could lose a few players from his first team squad.

While I failed to discover the identity of the other players involved, it would come as no surprise if the names of current full-back, Danny Lafferty; right winger, Stephen McLaughlin or the versatile defender-midfielder, Shane McEleney, rise to prominence over the next few weeks.

And while the younger players have certainly impressed having just graduated from the Airtricity First Division, older and more experienced members of the current squad have also received praise from visiting scouts who have been attending recent Derry City games.

Central midfielders Ruaidhri Higgins and Barry Molloy and, indeed, goalkeeper, Gerard Doherty, will have staked claims for moves back across the Channel should they harbour such hopes, given their efforts against the leaders on Friday night.

While young centre-back, Ryan McBride, making only his second league start, is the latest local youngster to have emerged from the club’s Youth Academy.

The powers that be at the Brandywell club, therefore, will have much to discuss in relation to the future, the early decision to foster local youth and attempt to develop young players now proving to be what can only be described as a masterstroke.

There’s no doubt that the vast majority of the club’s faithful supporters will not be aware of the work that has been going on behind the scenes for the past few years on that front. Derry’s Chief of Youth Development, Eddie Seydak and his coaches, John Quigg and Hugh Harkin, have done fantastic work in identifying and nurturing young teenagers through to the senior ranks and the fruits of their labour continues to emerge with McBride’s progress.

Now respected and, indeed, feared in League of Ireland circles, Derry’s defeat of the league leaders, not to mention the 2-2 result recorded between St. Patrick’s Athletic and Dundalk on Sunday, has now blown the race for the Premier Division title wide open.

Prior to last weekend’s match, the “Candy Stripes” lay four points adrift of leaders, Rovers; three points behind second placed St. Pat’s and two points adrift of Sligo. However, following the weekend win, Derry remain in fourth but now lie just two points off new leaders Sligo and one behind second placed Rovers and St. Pat’s.

Premier Title Contenders

So with a total of 14 games remaining and certainly back in the mix for the title race, would the home side be prepared to part company with not one, but possibly two or three, young members of the current squad?

The situation will, no doubt, now be regularly discussed in the Brandywell Boardroom and on the terraces as to the next move to be made in relation to the club’s future.

And it’s also worth noting that the prize for winning the Premier Division title has now been reduced to E100,000 from E250,000 last year but the significant rewards for qualifying for the Champions’ League should also be taken into account.

That said, the probable sale of two Derry City players to cross-Channel clubs could well extend to in excess of £500,000, finance which would certainly secure the long-term viability of the local club.

Interesting times certainly lie ahead for the “Candy Stripes.”

Turner Suspended

Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers midfielder, Chris Turner, who was alleged to have made a racial comment to Derry striker, Eamon Zayed, during the match against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium, has been suspended for three matches by an FAI Independent Committee.

However, while Turner was not found guilty of racial abuse, the Disciplinary Committee agreed that the Rovers player was guilty of ‘offensive behaviour’ over the same matter and imposed a three match ban.

But Shamrock Rovers were not sanctioned in respect of a complaint relating to their supporters during the same game as there was “no corroborative evidence in relation to that complaint.”

St. Patrick’s Athletic, meanwhile, were fined E200 when a small number of their supporters shouted abuse at Zayed in a previous game at Richmond Park.