Defender the priority as Derry down to minimum

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STEPHEN Kenny’s chief priority before the start of the new season, is to add a commanding centre-half to his squad, a task he is currently attempting to overcome.



But it hasn’t go any easier for the Dubliner with the news that Seamus Sharkey will depart for Australia this week, the Newtown-based defender opting to try his luck “Down Under” as he attempts to secure a future in the game.

And with Mark McChrystal and Mark Scoltock having already severed their ties at the club over recent months, Kenny’s defensive options have been weakened further.

Eddie McCallion, Shane McEleney, Emmet Friars and Danny Lafferty are the only recognised defenders in the current panel, therefore, the Derry boss will concentrate his efforts in attempting to fill the void before the deadline which expires on February 20th.

Kenny will seek a central defender who boasts similar talents to those of Darren Kelly, Ken Oman or Clive Delaney, with the emphasis on aerial ability in particular. While the midfield and forward areas appear to have been filled out well following the return to Gareth McGlynn and Ruaidhri Higgins, Derry are clear short defensively.

Without a commanding figure in the heart of the rearguard, Derry will struggle in set-piece situations and the Brandywell boss will be doing all in his power to secure such a character over the next few weeks.

Kenny continues to watch local talent, in fact the Dubliner was again noticed running his eye over Institute striker, Joe McCready, who put in a decent shift against Banbridge Town last Saturday afternoon in Drumahoe. So could the Shantallow man be joining the “Candy Stripes” before the end of this month?

The Derry boss refused to comment when pushed on the possibility of the 20-year-old joining his squad and would only state: “Joe McCready is a good player and yes, I like him as I believe he has good attributes and could improve.

“I thought he played well against Banbridge on Saturday but, at this moment in time he’s an Institute player and I certainly do not wish to show any disrespect to his current club.”

Kenny also confirmed that he had travelled to Windsor Park to watch McCready against Linfield recently, but he refused to concede that he was interested in signing him.

“I’ve been watching quite a few local players over the past few months. I try to monitor the progress of all local players given what we’ve been attempting to achieve at the Brandywell and I will continue to do so.

McGlynn, Higgins Return

Meanwhile, both Gareth McGlynn and Ruaidhri Higgins have signed on the dotted line for Derry and both will travel to Dublin today (Tuesay) for a three days training camp in what’s expected to be a party of 20 players plus coaching and backroom staff.

And while the return of both has been an open secret in Derry over the past month, Kenny believes that both players provide “great quality” rather than experience as he begins to finalise his first team panel.

“Ruaidhri Higgins has overcome a number of difficulties throughout his career but he’s developed into a player with terrific vision and a player who can shape the midfield area. He’s got the ability to unlock defences with his passing ability and while some people prefer a more direct style of play, they wouldn’t appreciate Ruaidhri who possesses a great range of passing.

He has been involved in great European nights as a young player having arrived at Derry City as a 20-year-old and while he had good attributes and values, he’s played in big games and believes the Brandywell is his rightful place.”

McGlynn, who has graduataed into the Derry first time having come through the young ranks under former boss, Kevin Mahon and coach, Hugh Harkin, has been at the Brandywell for nine years and, like Higgins, Kenny holds the Inch based winger in high regard.

“Gareth has improved significantly since his early 20s when he was viewed as a small, yet skilful player but he’s now physically developed and has added another dimension to his game. He’s got a good brain and boasts tremendous energy to keep going for 90 minutes and he can play across the midfield area.

“Derry City supporters will be well aware of the quality of both players, but they need to be enjoying their football. They’ve had bad experiences at the Brandywell before opting to join Bohemians last season and following further difficulties, it’s so easy to become cynical.

“I see them more as quality players rather than experienced but they will bring the best out of the young players around them and I’ve no doubt their involvement next season will prove particularly positive,” continued the Dubliner.