DECLAN Devine has made a bold move to solve his problematic left-wing position with the news that 21-years-old Thomas Crawley (pictured above) is expected to sign on the dotted line this afternoon.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Forced into replacing his second regular left-winger over the past two seasons following the defections of James McClean (to Sunderland) and Stephen McLaughlin (to Nottingham Forest), the Derry boss held the view that Crawley was perfectly placed to fill the vacancy on the left for the 2013 campaign.
Having returned from a short training stint at SPL representatives, St. Johnstone, last week, Crawley opted to re-open negotiations with Devine, as the Derry boss had been attempting to secure his signature before the Dubliner left to go on trial.
“Thomas is one of a number of players we have been following over the past six or seven weeks,” confirmed the Derry boss last night.
“He was considered to be one of the best young players in the First Division last season when representing Longford Town and he had attracted the attentions of quite a few Irish clubs.
“He graduated through the St. Pat’s Athletic Youth Academy the previous season and having made 28 appearances for Longford in his first senior season, he continues to develop and we believe he could prove to be a major asset for us next season,” added Devine.
“He was one of those players who opted to take up the opportunity to travel over to England and Scotland during the close season for trial and while he spent a few days with St. Johnston last week, he opted to return home and have another chat with us as a possible move to Scotland didn’t feel right for him at this stage of his career.”
Aware of his return to Dublin, Devine travelled down to meet him on Sunday to discuss the possibility of the player moving to Foyleside for a season and he was impressed with Crawley’s interest in joining the Brandywell club.
“I made it clear, as we do these days with all our young players, that Derry City is now well positioned to assist players with hopes of moving across the Channel into full-time careers. Our record on that front has been very impressive over recent years and for young players with potential, it’s a no risk gamble deciding to play at the Brandywell for a season.
“We don’t throw money at players any longer. We simply try to provide a shop window for players to express themselves and we can guarantee that such players will be watched by the top scouts in England as our record continues to prove.”
Describing Crawley as a “physically strong player who possessed the ability to deliver the ball into the danger area,” the Derry boss was impressed having spoken to him face-to-face on Sunday.
“He has a good knowledge of Derry City and said he would dearly love the opportunity to further his career in England if given the opportunity. Thomas is a hard worker, on and off the pitch, and he wants to follow the paths taken by McClean and McLaughlin, which was nice to hear.
“He has been impressed with the quality of our wide players over recent seasons and he believes that he will become a better player by spending at least a season with us at the Brandywell.
“Like Stephen McLaughlin, this is an opportunity for him to move into the Premier Division in the Airtricity League and test himself against the best players in the country.”
Crawley will become the fourth new signing for the 2013 season and his arrival certainly boosts Derry’s vital midfield area with Paddy Kavanagh and Sean Houston also keep to secure places in that area.
signings hit problems
And while the Derry management team will be happy with the quality and strength-in-depth of the midfield sector, Devine and his assistant boss, Paul Hegarty, must continue to search for another forward player to compete with Rory Patterson, Patrick McEleney, Michael Rafter and Ryan Curran as attempts to add both Marc Griffin and David McDaid, appear to have hit further difficulties.
McDaid was due to travel over to League Two side, York City, yesterday (Monday) to take part in a few training sessions and play in a practise match after his previously planned trip to the club had fallen through.
And Griffin, despite getting through a medical over the weekend, failed to sign on the dotted line as further problems have developed between Derry and Dundalk in relation to a verbal agreement regarding compensation.
Prior to last weekend, Derry verbally agreed to pay a nominal sum for the player and agreed to pay a further sum to Dundalk should the player make a specific number of first team appearances. But there now appears to be problems over the actual of number of first team appearances.
It is known that Griffin is anxious to sign for the “Candy Stripes” having opted to continue pre-season training at the Brandywell. There has been interest from Limerick but the player has made it clear that he does not wish to move to Shannonside.
No doubt, officials from Derry and Dundalk will continue to negotiate on the matter but, at the time of going to Press, the Australian-born hitman has yet to join the local club.