DERRY City’s skilful left-winger, Stephen McLaughlin, is expected to learn if he will be joining Nottingham Forest at some stage today.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
It’s understood the Championship club will finally table an offer for the 22-years-old from the Isle of Doagh, who has recently returned from a one week training stint with the club.
Having initially been recommended by Forest’s local scout, McLaughlin was then watched on several occasions by other Forest coaches and when Forest’s Chief Scout attended last month’s FAI Cup final, the Inishowen man became a definite target.
Since then the clubs have been involved in discussions with Forest informed of Derry’s asking price and, indeed, the add-on clauses should a transfer deal materialise.
The player, who was Derry City’s joint leading scorer with Davy McDaid last season, both having netted 17 goals, is predictably keen to further his career in England but after spending a week under the supervision of Forest’s coaching staff, he was anxious to get a move to the City Ground.
McLaughlin, who travelled over to England with his father Neil, trained on a daily basis with the Forest first team and on their day off, he trained again with the club’s under-21 squad.
“It was fantastic experience,” he said. “Everything at the City Ground is set up for Premiership football,” added the player.
And when asked on his feeling about a possible move, McLaughlin was anxious to have his future sorted out sooner rather than later.
“It’s no secret that I thoroughly enjoyed my week with Nottingham Forest. It’s a first class club and their facilities were outstanding, I was very, very impressed,” he continued.
“But, as always seems to be the case, the player is always the last person to know what’s happening. Before I left Forest I spoke with their Head Scout, Alan Hill, who has always been my contact, with Keith Birt and, of course, the manager, Sean O’Driscoll.
“They told me they liked me and confirmed to me that the club had been talking which was a good sign. I’ve since been told that Forest could be making an offer for me this week, so I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope for good news,” laughed the winger.
“I really enjoyed the experience when I was over and the word ‘professional’ has taken on a new meaning. Their preparation for matches and their analysis of matches was amazing.
“Every day before training got underway the previous match was analysed in great detail - win, lose or draw. Incidents were shown on mistakes that had been made and how the club could have been punished. Very little was missed as the coaches constantly talked about dealing with certain situations. It really was amazing stuff.”
However, with very little happening since his return home, McLaughlin opted to take nothing for granted but he did admit his disappointment that no further contact had been made with him.
“I’ve been told by quite a few people that the player always seems to be the last person to know what’s going on. Obviously I’ve become very anxious but I see that as a good position to be in as no news is good news and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
“I’ve been told the the club have continued to talk to each other and that representatives from Derry City will be travelling to Nottingham next weekend as guests of the club, so that can’t be bad.
“But if nothing happens, then I will start planning to return to the Brandywell for pre-season training and with European football on the agenda in 2013, I think Derry City will have quite a lot to look forward to.
“The Derry players always talk about how they thoroughly enjoyed big European nights at the Brandywell and that will be something to look forward to. I think I would really enjoy that and I’d like to be a part of that having thoroughly enjoyed last season despite the injuries I had,” he concluded.
Youngsters now in demand
McLaughlin may be the centre of attention at the moment with Forest believed to be keen, but two other clubs have already made contact seeking the services of Derry’s youth team players.
Talented young centre-back, Caoimhinn Bonner, son of former Derry City defender, Liam, has attracted the attention of Scottish Premier League side, Kilmarnock while striker, Michael Duffy, has been linked with a possible move to Sheffield United following an inquiry from the “Blades.”
Derry will not stand in the way of either teenager, however, should the cross-Channel clubs continue their interest then they must pay an agreed UEFA compensation fee as both players are under-23 years old.
The compensation fee must be negotiated between the clubs and if those negotiations prove to be successful, the “Candy Stripes” would then be responsible to pass on part of that fee to the players’ junior Derry & District F.A. Club.
“We’ve received contact from both Sheffield United and Kilmarnock in relation to two of our younger players and while we’ve no intention of standing in their way, we must agree compensation fees as we also have an agreement with our junior clubs should players coming through our ranks be transferred on,” confirmed Derry vice-chairman, Mr. Sean Barrett.
“It’s obvious that our young players have made great strides last season so full credit to our Youth Development Officer, Eddie Seydak and his coaching staff,” added Mr. Barrett.
Finally, Derry City supporters have organised an “Appreciation Evening” this Sunday night for the club’s leading goalscorer, Mark Farren.
The function will get underway in the Derry City Social Club in Crawford Square at 7.30 p.m. and an open invitation is extended to all supporters of the “Candy Stripes.”