Derry City: "If you're good enough, you're old enough!"
DECLAN DEVINE has sent a clear message to his young Derry City squad ahead of the new season when borrowing Sir Matt Busby’s famous quote; ‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough!’
The City boss goes into the new Airtricity League campaign with a 22 man squad that boasts an average age of just 23 years.
That includes first team player/coach, Mark McChrystal (36), Ciaran Coll (29), Darren Cole (29) and Danny Lafferty (31), the club’s most senior players.
Those more experienced players will have a significant role to play this season but Devine has also vowed to give academy players every chance to stake their claim for a first team spot at the Brandywell club this year.
Teenagers Ronan Boyce, Patrick Ferry and Jack Lemoignan have already been rewarded with professional contracts while Academy prospects Brendan Barr, Caolan McLaughlin, Mark McFadden and Odhran Kennedy have all featured in Derry’s opening two pre-season outings against Finn Harps and Bray Wanderers.
Devine admits he doesn’t yet know his strongest starting XI with players impressing in training and the City boss says he will continue to blood youngsters this season.
“I couldn’t tell you what my strongest team was today because everyday there’s somebody impressing me more,” he said.
“What we’ve got at the minute is a number of boys who can play in a number of positions. We’ve got fantastic options up front. We’ve got as good a defensive unit as there is about.
“The players have been brilliant. Their attitude and application has been first class. There’s such a positive vibe with this young group. Everybody is loving getting into work every day and long may that continue.
“We have 14 players who have come through the academy set-up at some stage of their careers. We’re very young but there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for a lot of players.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are if you’re good enough,” he insisted. “If you’re good enough you’ll get a chance this season
“There’s been a few Academy players in with us during the course of pre-season and they haven’t looked out of place.
“I wouldn’t have these players in with the first team if they weren’t good enough. They’re all working extremely hard and pushing everybody.”
Meanwhile, Devine, who has added former Cliftonville midfielder Aaron Harkin to his squad, was impressed by his side’s performance against Bray Wanderers at the AUL Complex in Dublin on Sunday afternoon.
“Bray had a good team out and it was a really good test for our boys,” said Devine.
“They drew with Rovers last week and we knew coming down that it was going to be a really tough game.”Derry are back in action tomorrow night at Brandywell Stadium when they meet Finn Harps before travelling to Bohemians on Saturday.
“We’re still learning about each other but if you analyse the two games that we’ve played they have been two really good workouts.”