Derry youth policy will continue

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RODDY Collins has again dismissed suggestions that he has ditched Derry City’s recent policy of recruiting and developing young local players.

And with the names of new players such as Cliff Byrne and Akanni-Sunday Wasiu, suddenly arriving on the transfer front yesterday, the Dubliner again made it clear that he’s keen to have a look at what’s available.

“Simon Madden, Michael Rafter, Davy McDaid, Eoghan Osborne, Stewart Greacen and Eugene Ferry all left Derry of their own accord while three players - Ruaidhri Higgins, Mark Griffin and Thomas Crawley - were released by myself,” said Collins.

“That’s nine players from last year’s squad who have gone. I’ve added Danny Ventre to the squad plus young players such as Ciaran Gallagher, Rod Collins jnr. and Enda Curran, but I’ve also secured the services of Rory Patterson and Dean Jarvis on new contracts.

“So yes, I have decided to bring in a number of players known to me, and over the next 24 hours I will be making offers to Cliff Byrne, Mark Stewart, Iarlaith Davoren and Tim Clancy to join us,” confirmed Collins. “I’m hoping to finalise a first team panel of 18 out-field players plus two goalkeepers bringing that total to 20. But the first team squad will also be supplemented by members of our under-19 squad, who will continue their development,” he claimed.

“Enda Curran, Ciaran Gallagher and Rod Collins jun. are young players I believe have the potential to progress at senior level, so there’s absolutely no change in Derry’s highly respected policy of attracting and developing youngsters. I’ve noted and commented on Derry’s embarrassment of riches with so many talented youngsters in the squad and I have every intention of continuing that development,” he insisted.

“But I believe we require experienced personnel to assist in that development. Derry may have scored more goals than any other team last season, but they conceded 39, which is a big total. So that must be improved immediately.”

On that very front, Collins is keen to sign 31-years-old Cliff Byrne who has had his contract with Oldham Athletic cancelled by mutual agreement.

Considered a dogged centre-back, the native Dubliner could be an an answer to our defensive frailties.

“I know all about Cliff. His agent has made contact with me to tell that he wished to return home and would be prepared to sign a contract until July, and then we would take it from there,” declared Collins.