THIS WEEKEND could prove hugely significant for Derry City Football Club and, of course, the club’s new management team.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
With speculation mounting that Danny Lafferty is currently discussing a future in the nPower Championship with Burnley, both Declan Devine and Paul Hegarty will be spending no shortage of time on the telephone, attempting to make provision for the players who have already left the club.
And while Lafferty’s possible departure will undoubtedly cause the pair problems, the failure to confirm a deal with Mark Farren is not helping either.
The striker, who has now put his medical condition behind him having gone through his rehabilitation without any difficulty, is keen to resurrect his career next season, but the club’s failure to offer what he believes to be ‘fair terms’ continues to cause frustration.
On the positive side, it appears that Strabane native, Rory Patterson, could be a Derry City player this weekend provided contact with Linfield is successful.
It’s understood that Patterson’s contracted club, Plymouth Argyle, are happy to allow the player join Derry on loan until June at least.
However, with the player currently on loan with Linfield, much will depend on the ‘Blues’ attitude to the deal, though sources close to the Windsor Park club believe that the deal will go through this weekend.
Meanwhile, Derry will play their opening pre-season game against Dungannon Swifts in the Brandywell this Tuesday night with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off.
And while the new manager’s focus is on that opening game, he agreed last night that so much water could have flown under the bridge by that time.
On the Patterson situation, Devine said: “I believe we are very close to agreement on the signing of Rory Patterson. The player is very keen to join Derry City and we’re now waiting on agreement with Linfield to confirm the deal.
“Plymouth do not have any difficulty with the move and we’re hopeful that we will get agreement on that front over the next 48 hours,” he added.
And on the progress of the negotiations with Mark Farren, Devine refused to be drawn adding that he has been and will continue to be speaking with the player over this weekend.
“Mark has been made an offer by the club and it’s an offer which we will attempt to work with in order to get him to sign. I’ve constantly made it clear that I want him back at the Brandywell, he knows that. The players want him back at the Brandywell and I’ve no doubt our supporters want him back at the Brandywell.
“It’s very disappointing that he stopped attending training sessions, particularly at this stage of the season, but we’ll continue to talk and given that our first pre-season game is only days away, I would expect a decision, one way or the other, this weekend.
“If Mark desperately wants to leave, then there’s nothing we can do about that as he’s out of contract. We have not reached agreement which I believe is a shame as we believe Mark Farren has a lot to offer Derry City but, by the same token, Derry City has a lot to offer Mark Farren.
“He’s had a great career here, everyone has stood by him during the difficult times, but we’ll continue talking in an effort to get agreement,” continued Devine.
“We’re flat out trying to attract players to Derry City and while we don’t want to see players leaving us, it’s important that we keep focused on what we are trying to acheive and follow every possibility of attracting the right type of players to the football club.
“It’s no secret that we’ve lost many quality players from last season and with Danny Lafferty now possibly moving on, it certainly doesn’t get any easier.”
When questioned on the possibility of signing former Finn Harps’ captain, Packie Mailey, who has been training with the “Candy Stripes” over the past week, Devine said he had been impressed.
“Packie is doing really well with us in pre-season. He hasn’t missed a session and he appears to happy within the group. He will be involved in next Tuesday night’s match against Dungannon, as will all members of the squad and any new signings we may make between now and then,” concluded Devine.
Tuesday night’s game will have a £5 admission.
Derry then travel to the Riverside Stadium next Tuesday week to face Institute in the annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup final.