RODDY Collins appears to be well on his way to cementing a special relationship with an unnamed “big club” in England prior to the March 7th kick-off in the Airtricity League.
During last week’s trip to England and Scotland, the Dubliner had arranged a meeting with contacts at an English club and, since then, that club has asked the Derry City boss to travel back over in January for a further exploratory meeting.
In short, Collins has high hopes of taking talented young players from the English to club to further their development in the League of Ireland Premier Division, a tactic he employed in the past when managing Carlisle United.
“The meeting had been arranged to last 20 minutes, but I was there for over an hour and a half,” noted the Brandywell boss last night.
“I’d rather not name the club at this stage, but their representatives have asked me to travel over again early next month to meet the manager and members of the coaching staff,” he added.
“I’ve done this before when managing Carlisle, but if it works out then I believe it will be very much a win, win situation for Derry City.”
When pushed further on the identity of the club, Collins would only state: “I can confirm that it’s a big club, not a Premiership club, but a big club based in England.”
According to the Brandywell boss, quite a few clubs in the lower leagues boast large panels and allowing youngsters to go on loan to develop is now considered a common practice in the lower leagues.
“There are so many youngsters, aged from 18 to 21, who get frustrated at not getting first team football and that can be detrimental to their future careers,” maintained Collins.
“Not only would we take such youngsters on loan, our coaching staff would also offer parential guidance helping them to develop into good people, not just good players.
“Some clubs actually prefer to allow their talented youngsters develop in the League of Ireland, rather than play under-21 games at home.
“Our job would be to strengthen them as footballers, prepare them for first team football in England and help them develop good attitudes etc.
“So for Derry City, it’s an opportunity to bring in a few new players at very little cost. Obviously the players which would come over are individuals who have long term futures at their home clubs having already impressed,” declared the Derry boss.
“The club has asked me to travel back over early next month for further discussions and I told them I would be delighted to do just that and, fingers cross, it would be good to see us work something out.”
Meanwhile, yesterday Collins met up with a 25-years-old defender who has sampled football in Scandinavia and has returned home having sustained a few injuries.
“We’ll have a chat to see how he is as I’d like to find out a bit more about his injury situation. I’m not out trying to recruit new players every week because I really don’t need too many, I’m just keeping in touch with people and having a good look at what is available.”
But having since added last season’s Finn Harps goalkeeper, Ciaran Gallagher, to his squad, Collins refuses to close any doors.
“We needed someone to keep Gerard Doherty on his toes and I think Ciaran may well do that. He’s 21, from Raphoe and he was managed last year by Peter (Hutton), so he’s a young lad who ticks all the boxes.”
Former FAI Development Officer and ex-keeper, Declan McIntyre, has also been brought in as a goalkeeping coach for next season.
Looking forward to the start of the new campaign on March 7th, Collins was thrilled that Derry would be travelling to play Shamrock Rovers in the opening game in Tallaght.
“I’d much rather have that than a home game against one of the lesser clubs in the Premier Division.
“Those games put you under pressure. No, travelling to Tallaght will be good and I’ve no doubt we will rise to the occasion as it will be a good test for us.
“The league may not kick-off until March, but it’s already started now that the fixtures have been published.”