KENNY SHIELS believes Derry City can handle life without FOUR of last season’s top performers and claimed he will look in-house for replacements following the departure of winger, Stephen Dooley.
Portstewart winger, Dooley became the latest member of last season’s squad to leave Brandywell when signing for Cork City yesterday and follows Mark Timlin (St Pat’s) and Patrick McEleney (Dundalk) in joining a rival League of Ireland club.
And while Shiels will continue to trawl through the transfer market in search of top quality replacements, the Derry boss claims players like Aaron McEneff, Ronan Curtis and Josh Daniels can step up to the plate this season.
When asked if he was concerned about the recent trend of talented players leaving the club, Shiels said it was important to move on.
“We have to be mindful that we’ve lost quality players in Philip Lowry, Stephen Dooley, Patrick McEleney and Mark Timlin,” he said. “Those were, in the consensus of opinion, our four best players from last season.
“It means we have to be appreciative for the work they did for the club but more importantly we have to be appreciative of how we move forward from here.
“And I think we’ve got a great capacity for improving players at this club. The problem we have is that sometimes a player leaving can have a domino effect - when one leaves, two leave. It goes in cycles but if we run the club properly this season no one will leave next season.
“There’s been good work done here in the past by my predecessors and I have to build on that to take the club forward. It’s about having the right dynamic within our dressing room so we can perform to our best. That’s what I’m working to achieve.
“You will see an improvement in players like Josh Daniels, Aaron McEneff and Ronan Curtis,” he promised.
“They will be better players this season in my view and I can see the signs already.
“Sometimes you lose really good players and then young players step up to the plate and it’s quite possible that will happen this season.”
New Derry City signings, Danish defender, Niclas Vemmelund and Spanish midfielder, Cristian Delgado were also present at the Foyle Arena yesterday and Shiels was happy to have them both on board.
“I’m happy to get them signed,” he said. “They will be two excellent additions so I’m looking forward to working with them.”
The Derry City players reported back for the first preseason training session at Foyle Arena yesterday morning and Strength and Conditioning coach, Pearce Lafferty was delighted with their overall condition.
“The players are looking really good. They’re ahead of where they should be. Their body fat is where it should be at the start of the season so they’re six weeks ahead which is impressive. They’ve obviously worked really hard in the close season.
“So they’re a credit to themselves and hopefully the club can benefit from it.”
Derry City will begin their pre-season campaign on Friday, February 5th away to Ballymena United followed by a trip to the Oval to face Glentoran on Saturday, February 13th at 1.30 p.m. And on February 20th the club travel to Sligo Rovers at 7.45 p.m.