Derry City striker Eamon Zayed believes the club “will find it hard” to keep Derry winger James McClean at the Brandywell.
It’s been reported in recent weeks that the 22 year-old Derry player has been attracting the attention of several English clubs and should they come calling Zayed thinks that it will be hard to convince him to stay.
“James [McClean] has been flying this season and to be fair I think we are going to find it hard to hold on to him. Whether it’s the summer or the end of the year it’s going to be hard to keep such a talented player.
“There’s no doubt that there’s interest in James from other clubs. Everyday I read about a different club who are watching and would you blame them? - he’s been brilliant this season.”
Zayed was speaking after Derry’s 3-0 win over Bohemians at the Brandywell on Friday evening. Zayed scored twice against the Gypsies and heaped praise upon McClean who set-up Gareth McGlynn for the opener and Zayed for his 83rd minute strike.
“It was an unbelievable cross from James – it was so good that it was nearly impossible for me to miss from that distance,” said Zayed.
“James can score goals, his athleticism is amazing and he has real pace. James’s crossing was brilliant tonight and not just for the goals – he put in a few decent crosses in the first half that we were unlucky not to score from.”
Friday’s win ensures that Derry remain only five points behind league leaders Shamrock Rovers and with the season reaching its official halfway mark Stephen Kenny’s team have done extremely well and are still in the race for the 2011 league title.
Earlier this week Zayed made an official complaint to the referee after Derry’s game with Shamrock Rovers in Dublin. The Libyan international alleged that he had been racially abused by an opposing player during the game. He also claimed to have suffered the same treatment in a recent match between Derry City and St. Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park.
The 27 year-old striker has been in fine form this season and his second goal against Bohemians was his 14th for the season. When asked how he has coped with the media attention this week Zayed said that he felt that racism is an issue that he feels must be addressed within the game.
“It has been a difficult week for me and it’s media coverage and attention that I really don’t want but I feel I do have a responsibility and stand up and confront what is a serious issue.
“I am big and bold enough and I have heard it all before. I’ll take it on my shoulder and I refuse to let it affect the way I play football.
“There are a lot of youngsters from different backgrounds coming through the league and I feel it’s important for me to stand up for them. Maybe if we can stamp it out now then it’ll mean that they’ll not have to contend with that kind of treatment when they start playing senior football.
“It was good to get back out on to the pitch tonight and do what I love doing and that’s scoring goals.”
The former UCD and Sporting Fingal hit-man has been immediate hit with the Derry City fans. Asked for his feelings on his career so far with the Candy Stripes he smiled and said that signing for the club was one of the best decisions he has ever made.
“At the start of the season when Stephen [Kenny] contacted me I knew that signing for Derry was the right move. Don’t ask me how I knew because it was just one of those things but I knew Derry was the team I wanted to play for.
“It was right for me to get away from things in Dublin and get back to enjoying my football again. Stephen lets you enjoy your football – he’s very open minded and he’s been a great influence on me. I am really loving it here and the lads here are great too. I am just delighted to be here and delighted to be enjoying myself playing football.”
Meanwhile, Derry City boss Stephen Kenny praised his team’s performance against Pat Fenlon’s men but urged caution ahead of Tuesday’s game with Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell.
“It was a comprehensive victory for us tonight,” said Kenny after the game. “I thought it was a good team performance and Patrick McEleney was struggling with illness this week so I was glad that he played tonight.
“Obviously we now turn our attention to Tuesday’s game with Sligo so we need to recover well and get ourselves back for that game.”
Elswhere, Derry will be without Barry Molloy for Tuesday’s game with Sligo. Molloy sustained ankle ligament damage and will be unavailable for several weeks.
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