FORMER Derry City favourite Mark McChrystal played a major role in persuading new signing, Seanan Clucas to agree terms with the Brandywell club this week.
The 22 year-old Dungannon man revealed he consulted his former Bristol Rovers teammate once he became aware of Derry City’s interest.
And while he didn’t need much persuading to return to full-time football, Clucas admits the former City defender convinced him that signing for Derry would be the perfect career move.
It’s also understood that Derry boss, Peter Hutton had also sought advice from his ex-centre half partner, McChrystal once he heard of Clucas’ availability.
And after impressing in centre midfield in last Monday night’s 2-4 pre-season friendly win over Crusaders, Clucas signed a short term deal which keeps him at Brandywell until July next.
“I’ve been chatting to Mark (McChrystal) about the move,” revealed Clucas. “And I know Mark was chatting to Peter (Hutton) about me as well.
“I was actually on the phone to Mark last night,” he added. “He’s a great big lad and he had plenty of good things to say about the club.
“He told me that the standard of football in the League of Ireland is very good. No disrespect to the Irish League but the League of Ireland is a step above now. But it’s good to be back in full-time football.”
He’s the third Dungannon man in recent years to sign for Derry following in the footsteps of Niall McGinn and Dermot McCaffrey. And already the former Preston North End and Bristol Rovers man feels at home on Foyleside.
“It feels like home now”, said the Co. Tyrone native. “Everyone has made me feel welcome and I’m looking forward to the season.
“It’s a new chapter for me. It didn’t work out at Linfield but this is a new beginning and hopefully I can make an impact.
“I’m delighted to sign,” continued the midfielder. “It’s a fresh season, the season’s only starting now so it worked for both parties and I’m really looking forward to getting going and getting minutes under my belt.”
A defensive midfielder, Clucas sustained cruciate ligament damage which kept him out of the game for six months while he was playing for Bristol Rovers in League Two last season. And while he did make a comeback late in the 2013/14 season, he was released from the club following their relegation to the Conference Premier.
“I moved away from home when I was 16 and I loved being over in England. I loved the full time aspect of it. I played regularly for Bristol. I then had a bad injury and came back strong from it. Bristol got relegated and it just didn’t work out for me. It was an ACL injury (anterior cruciate ligament) and I was out for six months. It was a bad injury but I’ve had no problems since and, if anything, it’s stronger now.”
The N. Ireland U21 international then signed for Linfield on August 2014. He made his debut against Institute at the Riverside Stadium on August 23rd and his final appearance was in the 2-0 Irish Cup away win against Tobermore United on January 10th.
It was a disappointing period in his career where he felt he could offer more. So when Derry came calling it re-ignited his desire for the game.
“I just never really got a chance at Linfield,” he explained. “I thought I was better than a player that just sits on the bench so it didn’t work out so I have to put that behind me.
“Derry are a massive club playing in the southern league which, in my opinion, is a better standard.
“So hopefully it will be good for my career and I hope to get as much game time under my belt and be fully fit for Galway away.”
Clucas is Peter Hutton’s fourth new signing for the 2015 campaign and follows Cillian Morrison, Anthony Elding and Seamus Sharkey.
His signing is believed to be the missing part of the jigsaw for Hutton’s new look squad, filling the void left by former City skipper, Barry Molloy in that defensive midfield role.
Replacing Molloy is a big ask but Cluscas feels he’s up to the task.
“I’m relishing the challenge. Barry was at the club for 10 years so they are big boots to fill but hopefully when I get my match fitness up to speed I can do well.”
“Peter told me that he was looking for a defensive midfielder and I think I’m more than capable of doing a job in there for Derry. It’s my favoured position.
“I met the lads on Monday night and had a game. I played 45 minutes in centre midfield and then dropped into right back where I can play as well.
I’m excited about being back in full-time football and Derry are a big club and I’m relishing the opportunity.”