Derry City extend deals for Ciaron Harkin, Ciaran Coll as striker Cian Kavanagh moves on
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As Higgins builds towards another title charge next year, he plans on adding another two or three new signings in the coming weeks but with both Coll and Harkin out of contract at the end of the 2023 campaign he felt the pair have key roles to play next season both on and off the pitch.
Meanwhile Higgins also confirmed striker Cian Kavanagh has left the club after an 18 months spell. The striker, who was signed by Higgins from Waterford for an undisclosed fee in July 2022 has scored some important goals for the club including the winning strike in the first leg victory over Finnish side KuPS in the Europa Conference League second round last summer.
Higgins insists there has been interest in the player from other clubs and reckons he has benefited from his time spent on Foyleside.
"To be fair to Cian, he had some big moments that he will look back on fondly," said Higgins. "He got a big winner for us last year down in Inchicore. He's had a few big European goals this year as well so I feel he will leave here a better player.
"It's good having a healthy sized squad but you can't have too many either because it can cause disharmony. That's not the case but you can't have four or five strikers, it's impossible. There's been decent interest in Cian and he's going to move on elsewhere."
As for City midfielder Harkin who has returned from back-to-back ACL injuries, Higgins insists the club owed the 27 year-old Creggan man the offer of a new deal from a 'moral standpoint' after almost 20 months on the sidelines.
The City boss reckons Harkin will return to pre-season 'hungrier than anyone' as he looks to make up for lost time.
"Ciaron Harkin has missed the guts of 18 to 20 months and I think we owe it to him to give him the opportunity to get his career going at this club," said Higgins. "Honestly, if anyone epitomises a Derry City supporter it's him.
" He's a fan first before he's a player. Every away game he's on the bus with the players. Every home game, first in the dressing room. Every training session he's first there in the morning with a smile on his face. He's so vital for this group, I'm telling you.
"He has so much influence on the group. The players love him, the staff love him and I just hope we see him getting himself going again, getting the jersey back on and representing this club.
"We'll see how pre-season goes and not make any real decisions in terms of the impact he's going to have for us in the early stages of the season. Without putting pressure on him but I thought it was really important from a moral standpoint that we gave him the opportunity to kickstart his Derry City career."
Higgins says the player is feeling strong after his rehabilitation and is expecting him to be fully ready to hit the ground running when preseason begins.
"I would imagine he's good to go but we were never ever going to introduce him with three or four weeks to go. It would've been pointless when we have another three months until the start of the next season.
"So we were never going to do that but he's been training hard and looks sharp and lean and he'll be hungrier than anyone come the first day of preseason and I'm looking forward to working with him again because he deserves it.
“Everybody knows what he gives you on the pitch but the character he has shown has been first class. He’s Derry City through and through and he deserves the opportunity to get his career back on track at this club.”
Another man who has been a great servant to the club since his arrival from Finn Harps back in 2019 is Coll and Higgins felt the reliable defender can continue to play a major role in his squad going forward.
“Ciaran Coll has shown brilliant adaptability in different positions for us this season” said “He has been very, very consistent during my time here and is very popular among the players and staff. I’m delighted that he has agreed to extend his stay at the club for another year.”
"Ciaran has made over 36 appearances this season, right back, left back, left centre back, right centre back. People see from 7.45 on a Friday night or a Monday night until 9.40pm on the same night. Ciaran has been a brilliant player but again he's another one who has been a central figure in the dressing room.
"He's a character. He's funny. He's a bit of a ‘messer’ and makes people laugh. It's really important in the morning when the lads come into that dressing room environment that you have characters in it.
"He's a brilliant player by the way and I'm not disputing that but he's a brilliant character and the lads love him. You need that. You need people who put a smile on peoples' faces and those two (Harkin and Coll) certainly do that and we're delighted they will be extending their stay here."