Morrison on way back to his best?

Derry City midfielder Owen Morrison celebrates scoring the Candy Stripes opening goal at Finn Park on Tuesday night. (3005C05)
Derry City midfielder Owen Morrison celebrates scoring the Candy Stripes opening goal at Finn Park on Tuesday night. (3005C05)

DECLAN Devine and Paul Hegarty have set a date of February 22nd to finalise the squad which will represent the “Candy Stripes” in the Airtricity 2012 season.

arthur duffy reports

And should the pair fail to secure the serives of a new left-back, centre-half and right-sided midfielder, before the Setanta Cup kicks-off at Lisburn Distillery’s New Grosvenor Stadium on February 11th, then the Derry management team will be happy to play out that tournament with what they’ve already assembled.

In fact, the search for a new left-back saw former Ipswich Town defender, Shane O’Connor, opt to sign for Cork City after having had lengthy discussions with Devine last week.

“Shane had a shown a high level of interest in joining us but, in the end, he subsequently discussed the situation with his family and opted to stay local and it’ my understanding that he will be joining Cork City this weekend.

“At one stage, he was happy to join us in an attempt to re-launch his career having played 34 first team games for Ipswich Town under Roy Keane, before Cork entered the fray,” admitted Devine.

“So the search will continue as we’ve got to try and replace quality with quality. We’re seeking a new left-back, a new centre-half and new right winger and we’ve set a deadline of February 22nd to do just that.

“It’s very important that we get the right type of players and we’re not going to dive in and make signings just to get our numbers up.

“I’m very happy with the attitude and performances in training of both Rory Patterson and Simon Madden, so any new player signed must be of a similar standard.

“There’s no panic at the moment and if we don’t add players before the start of the Setanta Cup, then we wil go with what we’ve got in that competition.”

However, Devine openly admitted that quite a few players were anxious to join the Brandywell club with many of them hoping to use the “Candy Stripes” as a stepping stone to playing at a higher level in England.

“Obviously our reputation has grown in relation to preparing players for playing at a higher level and that has to be welcomed, but I think it’s up to us to identify the player we wish to sign before making any decisions on that front.”

Absentees in Drumahoe

Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery and Ryan McBride all missed Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat of Institute in the Billy Kee Memorial Cup in Drumahoe, Devine opting to include young players.

“To be fair, the players have been working hard in training and Owen Morrison, for example, has been very impressive on that front.

“I’d like to see him getting into the best possible shape he can be. I believe he’s still got quite a lot to offer us, but getting into condition would be an excellent starting point for him.

“He’s shown a great eagerness in training, he has knuckled down and should he maintain what he’s been doing, then we’d be happy to bring him on board,” claimed Devine.

Morrison travelled this morning with the squad but Packie Mailey picked up a thigh strain during the midweek game and his involvement had yet to be confirmed at the time of going to Press last night.

Ramelton youngster, Barry McNamee, has also been named in the training camp, the left-back performing well in training over the past few weeks.