Kenny Shiels concerned about apparent ‘blockage’ at underage level in Derry

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels wants to see more young Derry players come through the Brandywell club's underage setup.
Derry City manager Kenny Shiels wants to see more young Derry players come through the Brandywell club's underage setup.

KENNY SHIELS claims Derry City’s youth coaches are ‘hitting a brick wall’ when it comes to attracting the city’s best young talent through the door of the Brandywell club.

The Derry City boss says he’s growing increasingly frustrated at the apparent ‘blockage’ of players progressing from the Derry & District Youth through to the Candy Stripes’ U15 representatives.

At this moment in time I’m struggling to get Derry lads in the team. And there has always been the talent.

Kenny Shiels

Shiels claims the club sent out 12 invitations to players following trials last summer but remarkably received just one response and is at a loss to explain what he deems a ‘reluctance’ to join the only full-time professional club in N. Ireland.

And given the club’s remarkable trend of blooding youth players and providing a pathway to English football and progression to international level, Shiels has been left scratching his head.

“I think the boys’ clubs need to be more engaged with the parent club in the city,” said Shiels. “I’m not saying anyone is to blame but there has to be something done about it where Derry City has the best players.

“Then they can go and play nationally in the League of Ireland. At this moment in time I’m struggling to get Derry lads in the team. And there has always been the talent.”

Shiels insists it’s been ‘tearing at my heart’ that the supply line from Derry & District Youth clubs has dried up with most of the players on the periphery of his current first team squad hailing from Donegal.

And pointing to the SEVEN City players called up for international duty with the Republic and N. Ireland this week, Shiels insists the Foylesiders are the leading light in terms of producing young talent and remain the best option for young footballers hoping to ply their trade at a higher level.

“I think Derry City has been the catalyst for players playing in the League of Ireland and then representing international teams. Noel King has three of our players with Republic U21s and Ian Baraclough has four with N. Ireland U21s. They know the players are getting a good grounding here.