FORMER Brandywell favourite, Paddy McCourt, could well opt to further his career in the United States following recent interest from Major League Soccer outfit, Portland Timbers!
Sources in Dublin have suggested that the “Derry Pele” could follow the paths of Irish internationals Robbie Keane, Darren O’Dea and Andy O’Brien who all played in the MLS last season.
It’s been reported that Portland Timbers are keen to attract the skilful midfielder given that his contract at Celtic Park is due to expire in June and the possibility that Celtic would be prepared to discuss a possible transfer fee once the Transfer Window opens next month.
The player, who has made just two starts this season for the “Hoops,” is expected to sit down and have face-to-face discussions with Celtic boss, Neil Lennon, early next month to sort out his immediate future.
Having joined Celtic from Derry City back in 2008 for a fee understood to be in the region of £100,000, McCourt has had his injury problems while in the Scottish Premier League, but he did make an immediate impression at Celtic Park and quickly emerged as a fans’ favourite.
Portland Timbers currently have one Scottish player on the books, former Rangers hitman Kris Boyd and, therefore, the MLS club is fully aware of McCourt’s potential and informed sources have claimed that the Americans are lining up a deal once the next Transfer Window opens on January 1st.
A current Northern Ireland international, the Derry man has won nine Under-21 caps before making his senior international debut under Sammy McIlroy at Windsor Park back in 2002 when entering the fray as a substitute against Spain.
However, he did not figure in the senior squad until 2009 when making his second appearance against San Marino in a 2010 World Cup Qualifier.
And when he netted an international brace of goals - two exceptional individual strikes - against the Faroe Islands in August, 2011, the 29-years-old became a big favourite at Windsor Park.
While an offer from the USA may well whet the appetite of the former Foyle Harps starlet, Portland will certainly face competition from English Championship side, Crystal Palace, who are challenging for a leap into the promised land of the Premiership over the next few months.
New team boss, Ian Holloway, has been a long-time admirer of McCourt’s talents and, indeed, had attempted to bring the player to Blackpool before Celtic extended the player’s contract for another three years.
Now holding the managerial reins at Selhurst Park and having made a sustained challenge for promotion, there’s no doubt that Holloway will hope to finally capture the signature of McCourt who could prove to be a major asset over the final few months of the season.
It’s also believed that “The Eagles” boss will be granted additional finance to strengthen his squad come the opening of the Transfer Window and a bid of £750,000 is understood to be tabled in an effort to tempt Lennon to release the Shantallow man.
While the “Journal” failed to make contact with McCourt before going to Press last night, friends of the player have insisted that he wishes to remain at Celtic Park despite having played only a bit-part role during the current season due to injuries.
“Paddy has always been a big Celtic fan and while he is disappointed at not having featured more prominently during the current campaign, he’s anxious to secure regular first team football at Parkhead,” said a source.
Derry City Monthly Draw
The £1,000 winner of the Derry City Monthly draw for November was Paul Murray from Woodbrook (Ticket No. 440).
The Monthly draw for December will have five £1,000 prizes. For details telephone the Derry City Office on 71373111.