Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins praises Nathan Gartside as ex-Watford keeper joins Cliftonville

DERRY CITY boss Ruaidhri Higgins has praised Nathan Gartside's professionalism after the former Watford goalkeeper completed his move to Irish League outfit Cliftonville.

The 24 year-old, who made 46 appearances for Derry, joins the Reds on the eve of the Danske Bank Irish League campaign after the clubs agreed an undisclosed fee for the ex-Northern Ireland U21 international.

Gartside was frustrated with his lack of playing time at Derry, playing just twice this season, as Ireland U21 international Brian Maher made the position his own since signing from Bray Wanderers at the start of the League of Ireland season.

Talks between Derry and Cliftonville have been ongoing for several weeks and Higgins insists the Brandywell club wasn't prepared to allow the player to leave for free.

Nathan Gartside has left Derry City for Cliftonville.

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"We've had numerous conversations over the last month or six weeks," explained Higgins. "It's clear he obviously played all the games last year and did really well. You can get into a habit of playing games and then when it's taken away from you it can be really difficult.

"He's shown great professionalism and a great attitude and has never let himself down. From our club's point of view we had to come to an agreement with Cliftonville. We weren't just going to let a really good young goalkeeper walk out the door and we came to an agreement over the last 24 hours and we wish Nathan well. I'm sure he will go on to have a good career.

"Goalkeeper is a sensitive position because you don't bring a goalkeeper on for 20 minutes the way you can bring on a striker or whatever. It can be a lonely position I suppose but he's shown great professionalism and we wish him all the best."

Cliftonville manager Paddy McLaughlin was delighted to get his man.

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“Nathan is a quality young player who will add to what we’ve already got in the squad,” said McLaughlin. “I’ve watched his progress with Derry for a number of years now and he has always impressed me.

"Every manager wants serious competition for places right across his team and Nathan’s arrival only increases that in our changing room. He’s a hungry young player with big ambitions and that’s exactly what we want at Cliftonville.”

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