DERRY City manager Kenny Shiels has described new goalkeeper Nathan Gartside as one for the future.
The former Institute youngster, who signed a two and a half year deal with the Candy Stripes this week, has already proved his battling qualities after overcoming two major health scares in recent years.
Twenty-year-old Gartside saw his contract at Premiership side Watford end earlier in the summer but any disappointment was kept in perspective after two incidents which almost cost the young keeper his life.
In 2016, during a gym session, the net-minder became short of breath with pains down his left side. The Vicarage Road club’s medical team called an ambulance to take the keeper to Watford General Hospital where he saw a heart specialist.
While in hospital, his condition deteriorated further and he was placed into intensive care before a heart biopsy revealed he had contracted a virus known as myocarditis which damaged the left side of his heart.
Thankfully, having spent two weeks in hospital, he was discharged but his terrible luck continued. Six months into his rehabilitation he suffered another set-back when he was hospitalised with a deflated lung.
After another few months recovering, the Maydown man finally returned to action 10 months later in February of this year.
Now he’s back on Foyleside, Shiels is looking to get the young keeper’s career back on track with the Derry manager also stating Ben Doherty’s loan departure to Glenavon will also help his development.
“Nathan is a development goalkeeper. He’s a local lad and he’s one that we are trying to develop long-term,” confirmed Shiels. “He came back from Watford and he’s certainly one that we think has all the credentials, and the raw materials, to develop. That’s where Nathan is at the minute.
“Ben Doherty, Sam Todd and Niall Logue (both Finn Harps) are all out on-loan to give them game time which will help them to move their career on another step.”
Gartside has been at the club for several weeks now and said he was delighted to put pen to paper on a deal that will take him up to 2020.
“I have been around the squad for the past few weeks and they’ve made me feel really welcome,” said Gartside.
“My contract at Watford finished in June so, to be honest, I just want to get back playing football again as soon as possible.”
The new man will have to wait for his opportunity given the form of Gerard Doherty over recent weeks.
The City skipper actually made his debut for the Candy Stripes 20 years ago yesterday against Sligo Rovers in the League Cup. While he was unable to secure clean-sheet that day, the Creggan man played his part in a hard fought win over The Bit o’Red.
Gartside isn’t expected to be involved this evening but the Brandywell men have a few injury concerns going into the Waterford game.
Centre-back Eoin Toal and midfielder Shane McNamee are doubtful with flu. Nicky Low is recovering after having a operation last week but on a positive note, Conor McDermott may return having missed last week’s game in Blarney with a hip problem.
“Eoin and Shane are down with the flu and they both did a light session this morning (Thursday) which was their first session this week but hopefully they’ll be available for selection. Conor McDermott is getting over his hip flexor injury and there’s a chance he might be ready but Nicky Low is out,” said Shiels.