PATRICK McEleney insists he won’t allow the growing speculation surrounding his future to affect his focus as he looks to end the season on a high with Dundalk.
The Shantallow man’s outstanding form this season has attracted interest from a host of clubs including Luton Town, Wigan Athletic and his former club, Sunderland.
Australian outfit, Melbourne City have also been linked with a move for the ex-Derry City attacker but, as yet, there have been no bids received by the Lilywhites.
And until a bid is tabled and McEleney has something substantial to mull over, his full attention is with Dundalk and Sunday’s league meeting with his hometown club at Maginn Park (k.o. 2.30 p.m.).
“There hasn’t been any bids,” insisted McEleney. “There’s been a lot of interest and a lot of whispers which have had a knock-on effect.
“But I’m happy here. We’re playing for trophies and it’s all whispers at the minute.”
As I’m from Derry it obviously hurt a bit and it’s strange. I know if I was a Derry fan and a Derry player left and gave the reasons I gave at the time I’m pretty sure I would understand.Patrick McEleney
After failing to make the breakthrough at Sunderland in 2009 McEleney returned home to sign for Derry City but he’s made no secret of his desire to return to the top level.
“Playing at the top is everyone’s target. At that time in Sunderland I was a bit young and immature but I’m pretty sure if you asked anybody in the league what they’re working towards they would give the same answer and that’s playing in England or beyond, but at as high a level as you can.”
The 24 year-old has grown accustomed to the jeers and boos from sections of his hometown club’s support since making his controversial move to Dundalk.
The Derry man admits it ‘hurts’ and ‘annoys’ him to be subjected to abuse from the terraces from, it must be said, a small majority of City fans. He experienced an uncomfortable evening on Dundalk’s last visit to Buncrana as the Lilywhites fell to a 3-1 defeat on a night to forget for the former Candy Stripe. And he’s hoping for a better outcome on Sunday.
“It does annoy me,” admitted McEleney. “And the last time I played up there I had an absolute stinker so that didn’t help,” he laughed. So they were able to get on my back a bit.
“It is what it is. It happens in football. As I’m from Derry it obviously hurt a bit and it’s strange. I know if I was a Derry fan and a Derry player left and gave the reasons I gave at the time I’m pretty sure I would understand.
“But fans all have their own opinion and whatever it is it doesn’t bother me that much.
“I moved to try and win trophies and further my career and I think it was the right move at the right time.”
Ahead of a second clash against the Candy Stripes at Maginn Park this season McEleney’s concentrating on getting a victory which would move Dundalk 10 points ahead of their hosts in second place.
However, after starring in the emphatic 4-0 defeat of Derry in the FAI Cup first round at Oriel Park last weekend, McEleney is braced for a backlash as Kenny Shiels’ troops attempt to get back on track.
“I’m sure that’s what Derry are talking about, trying to catch us and they will need to win at the weekend to try and get close to us. If we win it goes to 10 so that’s our thinking at the minute. I’m pretty sure both camps know what they have to do.”
With Dundalk all but conceding defeat in the league title race to runaway leaders Cork City, McEleney admits the FAI Cup and League Cup are at the forefront of his mind.
However, he doesn’t believe their focus on winning a double will have a detrimental effect on their league form.
“The main focus is on the cups now but league games are crucial because you can’t just turn it on and turn it off. You can’t decide when to play well and when not to. Every game since I’ve come here we’ve been expected to win. I don’t think anybody will be taking their foot off the gas in league games.”