Sunderland, Wigan coaches at Inchicore tonight

Presseye.com 23rd July 2008. Picture by Jonathan Porter. Friendly match between Glasgow Celtic and Donegal Celtic at Celtic park in west Belfast. Celtic's Danny Lafferty with DC's Michael McClean.
Presseye.com 23rd July 2008. Picture by Jonathan Porter. Friendly match between Glasgow Celtic and Donegal Celtic at Celtic park in west Belfast. Celtic's Danny Lafferty with DC's Michael McClean.

DERRY City’s talented left-back, Danny Lafferty, has refused to take any notice of the widespread speculation currently surrounding his future.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

The 22-year-old defender last night insisted that his total focus was on the “Candy Stripes” final two matches of the Airtricity League season against St. Patrick’s Athletic (tonight at Inchicore) and next Friday night’s fixture against Bohemians at the Brandywell.

When informed that normally reliable sources had suggested that Wigan Athletic have now entered the race to sign him, Lafferty refused to get involved in any discussion on his future outside the Brandywell club.

“Obviously I’ve been reading the speculation about my future, but I’ve learned to take nothing for granted until Stephen (Kenny) or someone from Derry City informs me that a club has been in touch.

“As it stands, no one has been in touch with me, so my priority is to do everything in my power to help Derry City finish the season strongly and secure our place in next season’s Europa League.

“I’ve another year of my contract to run and I’m very happy at the Brandywell, so until something concrete arrives on the table - if at all - I don’t think it would be in my interests to comment on the speculation,” he added.

Having scored seven league goals from his defensive berth, Lafferty has been one of Derry’s most consistent performers this season and having already been watched by both Brighton and Huddersfield Town in Tallaght Stadium last week, representatives from both Sunderland and Wigan Athletic are expected to be in attendance at Richmond Park tonight.

Of course, Lafferty has spent five seasons at Celtic without making a breakthrough into the first team and while he was released prior to the 2010 season, he appears to have reignited his career having spent the last two seasons on home soil.

However, while disappointed at not breaking into the Celtic first team, the player has no regrets about his involvement at Parkhead and is now happy to put his early career down to experience.

“I think I’ve matured quite a lot over recent years and I believe I have improved as a player. My experience at Celtic helped me grow up in footballing terms but having enjoyed a regular place in the Derry City first team this season, I’m back enjoying my football again and I feel I’ve been in good form since we returned to the Premier Division.

“As a player, you are always looking for improvement and, of course, would habour hopes of playing at the highest level possible. If that comes around for me, then well and good, but I am enjoying my time at my home town club and I will be happy to see my contract out if the current speculation comes to nothing,” he concluded.

With James McClean regularly involved in the Sunderland reserve team in midweek and, indeed, commanding a place on the substitutes’ bench for the first team on matchdays, it’s believed the “Black Cats” will be considered favourites to sign him should they make a bid for Lafferty.

McClean, who has yet to make his first team debut, has enjoyed a significant rise to prominence since his arrival at The Stadium of Light and should the Premiership club make a move for Lafferty, the deal would be judged on similar terms which saw McClean move a few months ago.

Brighton and Huddersfield Town have already watched the defender perform this season and while they’ve yet to make an official approach, it’s believed they are waiting to see if either of the Premiership sides opt to make an official enquiry.

In any event, should the defender secure a move across the Channel, he would be ineligible to play for any club until the January Transfer Window opens.