Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins feels the sky’s the limit for new signing Will Patching

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins believes Will Patching has every attribute needed to be the complete midfield player.

Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI
Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

The 23-year-old, who has signed a two year deal with the Candy Stripes, was a massive fans’ favourite during his loan spell at Brandywell earlier this season and Higgins is confident there’s much more to come.

“I think the sky’s the limit for him. I really do believe that there’s a lot more to come from him which is a really exciting prospect,” insisted Higgins.

“Every attribute you want in a midfield player, he has got it, and he’s a really, really good person as well, someone who will easily fit into the group again.

Derry City's Will Patching in action against Drogheda United earlier in the season. Picture by Kevin Moore/MCI

“Will really enjoyed his period here and hopefully there’s more of the same. We hope that we can help him fulfil his potential over the coming years.

“I think Derry City supporters will be delighted to see him back at the Brandywell. He was fantastic during his period here earlier in the year and I believe there’s so much more to come from him.

“To be honest I knew Will’s talent having worked with him at Dundalk but he went to a level that even I was surprised at; Not surprised by his ability but off the ball, the defensive responsibilities that he took on were second to none. I think he’s as close to a complete midfield player as you are going to get in this country.”

Patching, who shone during his loan spell at the Brandywell over the first part of the 2021 season, is the latest man to exit Dundalk and join the Candy Stripes. He follows Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy by returning to Derry as boss Ruaidhri Higgins continues to piece together his squad for the 2022 campaign.

The former Manchester City youngster was in sparkling form during his loan spell on Foyleside this season, scoring six goals and registering six assists in only 16 games before returning to Vinny Perth’s side in July despite Derry’s best attempts at trying to sign him on a permanent deal. Now though, they have got their man.

After returning to the Lilywhites the talented midfielder linked up well with McEleney in particular during their Europa Conference League campaign, scoring against Welsh men Newtown and in both legs against Estonia side, Levadia.

“I think there’s so much scope to get more out of him as well,” added the Derry boss, “He’s 6ft, gets about the pitch, is an outstanding technical player who scores goals and his set-play delivery is second to none. He does all those things and defensively I think he has showed his capabilities when he was here previously.

“I feel he can play in any of the three different roles in midfield. He can play as the deep lying playmaker, he can play as an eight or as a number 10 so in different fixtures you might see him in different roles.

“He’s an exceptional talent and I’m thrilled to have him here. I think it shows his commitment to the club and how much he enjoyed it because early in our conversations it was apparent that he wanted to come back.”

Higgins feels the McEleney and Patching double act can further develop their link-up play on Foyleside next year because technically gifted players will always enjoy playing with each other.

“(They are) Two outstanding footballers and good players enjoy playing with good players so I think we’ll be exciting next season that’s for sure,” he explained.

“We have a lot of talent already in the group and we are obviously adding talent to it, so it’s an exciting time to be a part of it.

“Bringing players like Will to the club gets you really excited. It will be nice putting this team together over the next few months and, as I said, I think we’ll be good to watch. I’m sure we’ll score a lot of goals and I’m excited about what’s to come and our prospects going forward.”