DERRY City’s latest signing, Joshua Tracey, rejected a possible move to Nottingham Forest prior to signing on the dotted line for his home town club.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The Galliagh lad, who celebrated his 17th birthday last February, opted not to take up the offer of a trial with the Championship club claiming that he would gain more experience training and, hopefully, playing in the Derry City first team.
“I was informed by Derry that Nottingham Forest wanted me to go over on trial and I had two weeks to think about it,” said Josh.
“Obviously, it was very tempting but when I thought about it, I felt I would learn more staying at home and training with the Derry City first team,” he added.
“So while I was delighted to have been asked to go over, I told them that I wasn’t ready to go over to England just yet. I’m in the first year of my ‘A’ Levels at school and I want to see that out as well.
“I’ve always enjoyed my involvement with Derry City and now that I’m playing with the N. Ireland Under-17s, I’m really enjoying my football. Like any other player, I’d love to try my luck in England but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet.
“I was delighted to sign a two year contract with Derry last week, I’ve been training with the first team ever since and it’s been great. I think I will learn more here than I would with a development squad in England. So I’m happy to stay at home and progess as much as I can.” he continued.
Indeed, that was the news that Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, had been waiting on and he was quick to have the teenager signed up last Thursday.
“Our Academy coaches believe Josh has what it takes to get a chance of playing full-time football in England. He’s been playing with our Derry & District F.A. squad and he’s certainly raised quite a few eyebrows with his performances.
“He’s signed a two year deal but, as I’ve already told him, the hard work starts now but I think he’s knuckled down and is enjoying the experience with the first team.
“He’s a great lad and a teenager who could do very well for himself if he continues what he’s been doing. He’s got great technical ability and as a player who can play anywhere in the front-line, he’s certainly one for the future.”
Tracey is expected to get match practise in the Derry’s Ulster Senior League squad but, as was the case with Barry McNamee, Ryan Curran, Michael Duffy and Tony McNamee among others, he could well figure this season provided his progress continues.
Devine, meanwhile, has now focused his attentions on this Friday night’s trip to Richmond Park and a meeting with the team the “Candy Stripes” defeated in last year’s FAI Cup final.
And the Derry boss is convinced that St. Patrick’s Athletic are still hurting from that experience in the Aviva Stadium.
“They were the favourites on the day, yet we won the cup thanks to an excellent performance and they haven’t forgotten that,” claimed Devine.
“But, as they showed last Friday night against Sligo Rovers, they have a decent side and they intend to go one further this season.
“Liam Buckley may have lost a few players from last year, but the addition of Conan Byrne and Killian Brennan has certainly boosted their strength.
“So while we must give them the utmost respect, we must also travel with confidence as this is another match we believe we can win.”
Unlike last weekend’s Shamrock Rovers game, Devine held the view that the match against St. Pat’s would be an open, fluent affair with both sides attempting to win the game.
“Before the Rovers match, I expected them to go route one at the Brandywell, in an attempt to unsettle us and use their height and physical advantage. However, St. Pat’s are a totally different proposition as they are very much like ourselves and try to play as much football as possible.
“And while we managed to grind out a victory over Rovers thanks to a very solid defensive display, I think the team that performs well in the midfield area and in the final third will win at Inchicore this weekend.
“That said, this is yet another big test for us and, as always, the players will be ready for the challenge.”
On the team front, Paddy Kavanagh is expected to be out of action for at least a fortnight having tweaked his other hamstring after returning to full fitness just a few weeks ago and that injury disappointed Devine.
“I think he was coming back to himself before he limped off after only 10 minutes had elapsed and it’s a severe blow not just for us, but for Paddy himself. He’s devastated, but that’s football.
“At first I was worried that it was a knee problem but, hopefully, he will bounce back quickly from his hamstring problem.
“Dermot McCaffrey did well on his return on Friday night, which was great for us so at least we have competition for places. I’m also delighted with the young lads who have progressed and I’ve no problem throwing them in if and when required.
“I expect to have both Sean Houston and Stewart Greacen back in training next week, so we have more bodies coming back to fitness and, hopefully, they will be ready to return to action sooner rather than later,” concluded Devine.