DECLAN Devine will officially make his first new signing this afternoon with former Plymouth striker, Rory Patterson, putting pen to paper on a new two years contract with the Brandywell club.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
The 27-year-old former Coleraine hitman has spent the past few months on loan at Linfield and while he was expected to join Derry City for a further six months - also on loan - the player negotiated his release from “The Pilgrims” late yesterday afternoon in order to join the Brandywell club.
Indeed, the Strabane man also took what was described as a “substantial hit” in his terms from Plymouth to join the “Candy Stripes” and he will immediately to into action tonight (Tuesday) when Derry host Dungannon Swifts at the Lone Moor Road venue.
The signing delighted Devine, when commenting last night. “I’m over the moon that the player was prepared to take a substantial cut in his terms at Plymouth to join us at the Brandywell.
“Plymouth had stepped in at the eleventh hour to halt the deal, but the player took matters into his own hands and sorted out his release. I think it was in Plymouth’s interest that he should leave before his contract expired next June, but to have taken a financial loss to become a free agent shows a real desire to join us, rather than come on a loan deal,” added Devine.
The player, a senior Northern Ireland international, will be viewed as a direct replacement for Eamon Zayed who completed last season as the Airtricity League’s leading scorer.
“It was very important that we replaced the goals we scored last season,” continued the Derry boss. “Eamon Zayed was an out-and-out front man and once we knew he was leaving, Rory Patterson was immediately earmarked to replace him,
“He was the stand-out candidate and we are really pleased we managed to get him. He’s a proven goalscorer and his actions on Monday (yesterday) to lose out financially to join us, tells me quite a lot about his desire to play for Derry City.
“He’s been training with us since last Thursday and has settled in really well in the group. He’s been impressive and continues to work hard so that he can hit the ground running come February and the start of our Setanta Sports Cup campaign.
“He could so easily have waited until June and take weekly wages from Plymouth, effectively seeingly out his full-time contract, but he really wants to get back playing football again and we are absolutely thrilled to have him.
“He ticks every box for us in relation to our insistance on being local and, as a striker, he possesses everything we need, he’s just what the doctor ordered,” declared Declan.
Patterson will, therefore, lead the line against Dungannon Swifts tonight (7.45 p.m.) while players such as Packie Mailey and Mathew Crossan will also be involved as will local lads, Thomas McMonagle and James Henry plus the vast remainder of last year’s panel.
“Rory will play against Dungannon and we’ll also use the game to have a look at a number of other players.”
Admission to this evening’s game is £5.
Knight Linked with
Derry City Move
Meanwhile, Derry City have confirmed that negotiations have opened with another former Coleraine striker, who is prepared to move to the League of Ireland.
Leon Knight is believed to have “fallen out” with the “Bannsiders” and has expressed an interest in joining the “Candy Stripes.”
The diminutive, yet pacy striker, held contracts with Chelsea and Gillingham before switching to Ballycastle Road and while Derry have expressed an interest, it’s believed Glentoran have already tabled a bid for the player.
In addition, Cork City boss, Tommy Dunne, has also made contact with the player as he continues to build what appears to be a competitive squad at Turner’s Cross.
However, Coleraine will not be anxious to let the player join an Irish League club and Derry have decided to wait in the wings.
But Devine is anxious to add two strikers to the squad and with Patterson to put pen to paper today, he is anxious to sign another as soon as possble.
With the Mark Farren situation yet to be finalised, Devine made it clear that he still hoped to sign the Greencastle man.
“Hopefully I will be sitting down to speak with Mark at some stage on Tuesday to see if we can reach a compromise on him continuing his career at the Brandywell.
“I’ve been made aware that he has spoken to a number of other clubs, so it’s also important that I make contingency plans.
“I have made it clear that I wish to have Mark in the new squad, but with the finances of previous seasons cut significantly, we’ve all had to make cuts.
“He has been offered a contact with the potential to increase and I can’t go outside the budget that has been set in place.”
Waiting For Europa League Approval
The continuing problems in relation to Derry playing in Europe this season has not helped either with the UEFA to decide on that front.
“If we are allowed to take our place in the Europa League, things could be different as that would improve the budget, but that’s down to UEFA and our hands are completely tied.
“We’re hopeful that a decision could be made in days rather than weeks.”
Following tonight’s opening pre-season game, Derry will travel to Institute next Tuesday night to play in the annual Billy Kee Memorial Cup while the following Tuesday, February 7th, Derry will host Finn Harps at the Brandywell in the final pre-season game.