It’s Rover and Out for Eddie - Derry City stalwart looks set for Glenavon move

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EDDIE McCallion could make his swan-song appearance for Derry City in tonight’s crunch Airtricity Premier League clash with Shamrock Rovers.

And should that be the case the 33-years-old defender would end what has been a memorable 14-years association with his home town club.

Neither the club nor the full-back would confirm or deny reports of his imminent departure last night but with Irish Premier League club Glenavon offering an enticing two year deal, any involvement in tonight’s clash with the ‘Hoops’ is likely to be his last for the team McCallion has served so well!

Having made well in excess of 500 competitive appearances since arriving at the Brandywell club in 1997, the Limewood Street native will, no doubt, leave with a heavy heart should he decide to make the move to the Lurgan “Blues.”

When challenged on the speculation yesterday, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine admitted he intended to “hold talks” with McCallion after tonight’s game, to discuss the player’s immediate future and, while he would refuse to stand in the way of any potential move, Devine claimed he wanted the player to remain on Foyleside.

It’s believed the Brandywell club is unable to offer McCallion the security of another long term deal, therefore, the player holds the view that he must act quickly with the Airtricity League Transfer Window about to close.

Devine, however, was aware of the approach from the Irish League club.

“Glenavon have offered Eddie a two-year contract but we need him available for the Shamrock Rovers match as we are down a few bodies,” revealed the Derry boss.

“Eddie’s been a terrific servant to this football club down the years and he’s been a great friend to me personally but the reality is that the club is not in a position at this time to extend contracts and we’re not in a position to match the terms that Glenavon have offered Eddie.

“We’ll have to sit down and see where we are after the Rovers’ game. I’m aware that Eddie is going to speak to Glenavon again this weekend, but he will be involved in the panel for the visit of Rovers. He deserves to be playing senior football for as long as he can and, indeed, to land a long term contract.

“Personally, I don’t want Eddie McCallion to go anywhere, but the football club can’t stand in his way either after the service he has given us for well over a decade.

“I suppose it’s a difficult position to be in as Eddie still has a lot to offer, He’s played quite a few games this year, but we have to be fair to him and his family because he’s been a terrific servant. We have to make sure what we do what is right for both parties.

“At the moment, the total focus is on the visit of Shamrock Rovers but after the game, I expect to be sitting down with Eddie over the weekend to see where we are.”

The reigning league champions arrive at Brandywell tonight on the back of their disastrous UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Lithuanian side Ekranas on Tuesday night.

And with under pressure Rovers’ boss, Stephen Kenny - who met with the Tallaght club’s Board of Directors last night - dealing with growing fan unrest, Devine is expecting a backlash from the visitors.

Determined Devine

However, bearing in mind Derry have only lost four consecutive games at Brandywell once before back in 1991, Devine is determined to address his side’s three match losing streak at the venue.

Victory tonight would put the home side level on points with Rovers who currently occupy fourth place, therefore there’s plenty at stake.

“It’s always a big game when Shamrock Rovers come to the Brandywell and if we can get a victory then we go level on points with them so there is a lot at stake,” added Devine.

“We want to improve our home record first and foremost. We want to challenge ourselves against one of the best teams in the country and get some points on board.

“I think two or three wins and we’re right back in the mix with some of our best players still to come back on board. Once we have all our top players back we will be a very strong side.”

Rovers go into tonight’s match on the back of three consecutive draws but Devine refuses to get carried away with the doom and gloom currently engulfing the Tallaght club.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game,” he predicted. “I don’t think people should get carried away with them having a bad season because they’re still heavily involved in all three domestic competitions and they’re capable of winning the league.

“I think Stephen (Kenny) knew going into that job that there was always going to be pressure but there’s no better man in my opinion to deal with it.

“But I have enough on my own plate and we have to concentrate on getting our injured players back and try and get three or four consecutive wins ourselves. If we win tomorrow night we’re right back in with a shout in terms of Europe.

“We’ve got to play to the best of our ability. The Rovers squad is littered with experienced players. They’ve got most of the best players in the country but we’ve got to be confident that our young players can step up to the plate and show people the talent we’ve got in our squad.”