CSKA Gazump Derry Deal

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THE eleventh hour intervention of one of Derry City’s former Europa League opponents, appears to have scuppered the possibility of Declan Devine bringing a new face to the Brandywell.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

Top Bulgarian club, CSKA Sofia, who ended Derry’s European hopes two years ago, have made representations to Patrick Cregg, a former Arsenal youngster, who now seems set to move to the Baltics after having been involved in lengthy negotiations with the Derry boss over recent weeks.

The 26-year-old Dubliner, a central midfield player, has spent his entire career playing in England and Scotland.

He travelled to Foyleside a number of weeks ago to take part in a “behind closed doors” practise match.

And having impressed in that game in the company of a number of trialists, Cregg opted to spend a few days in the city, training with the first team.

Having been signed by Arsenal in 2004, the player spent two years at Highbury. He played in three League Cup games during his time there, making his debut in a 3-1 victory over Everton in November, 2004, but failed to make a league appearance.

After his release, he joined Scottish club, Falkirk in January, 2006. and went on to make in excess of 100 first team appearances during his three years at the Community Stadium.

In 2009 he spent one season at Hibs before short sojourns at Greenock Morton and St. Mirren before finally agreeing a one year deal at Bury last season, where he made seven first team appearances.

“Patrick agreed to travel to Derry a few weeks ago for the trial game. He did well and appeared to be happy with the surroundings having spent a few days in the city,” said Devine.

“In fact, just last week he was back up again having a look at a number of apartments after giving me a clear indication that he wanted to experience football in the League of Ireland and, at the same time, using that experience as a platform to get back to a club across the Channel,” added the Derry boss.

“However, since then CSKA Sofia have opened discussions with him in relation to a new contract, so it would appear that our deal has been placed on the back burner.”

Devine admitted that the player had opted to keep him informed of the situation with the Bulgarian side.

“To be fair to Patrick, he’s kept me informed of what’s happening in relation to the CSKA interest and, let’s be totally honest, when a club of that stature comes in, it’s hard to turn any offer down,” declared Devine.

“He’s told me that nothing has been done and dusted just yet as he has a few difficulties to overcome, so I’ve basically left the offer open to him and should be discover that a move to Bulgaria would not be in his best interests, then we’d be keen to have him.

“Last week I felt our negotiations had gone really well and I actually expected him to be signing for us once the Window opened on Sunday last.

“The Bulgarian agents has changed all that and I’m not going to get carried away. There’s no doubt that he would be well compensated for moving to Bulgaria and we’ll have to get on with it.”

With the purse strings at the Brandywell remaining tight, it’s hard to see any new signings outside those residing locally who had been playing in the Irish League over recent years.

Devine agreed that there were players in Dublin prepared to move, but the cost factor is significant and the days of bringing players up to play on match days and train with other clubs in Dubin have long since passed.

There has also been speculation that former Derry City players such as Ciaran Martyn and Neil McCafferty, who represented Glentoran and Portadown respectively in the Irish League last season, had been linked with a return to their former stomping ground but Devine refused to confirm or deny approaches to such players.

“At this stage, I can’t rule anything out. The budget is tight, we have a lengthy injury list and while I had hoped to definitely make at least one new signing, I can’t take anything for granted.

“We certainly need bodies, but any player we sign must bring something to the table, we will not be going down the road of signing players just for the sake of adding numbers to the squad.

“We have a month and I’m not going to rush into anything just because the Transfer Window opened on Sunday. There’s not too many players available during this particular Window. I’ve spoken to quite a few over recent weeks, but we’re not going to rush into anything,” he concluded.

Kenny on way

out at Rovers

Meanwhile, it would appear that former Derry boss, Stephen Kenny, has been experiencing difficulties following his defection to Shamrock Rovers six months ago.

Rumour was rife in Dublin last weekend that Kenny was on his way out of the club having experienced a very disappointing start to the 2012 campaign.

And last weekend’s 4-0 Dublin derby defeat to Bohemians appears to have been the straw which broke the camel’s back.

Sources in Dublin have suggested that the former Brandywell boss will be involved in discussuions with the Rovers Board of Directors this week to discuss his future at the club.