LISTEN: Derry City contract talks stall as players 'hang around' for best deal

KENNY SHIELS has resigned himself to losing more of his playing squad at the end of the 2018 League campaign as player contract talks stalled this week.

The Derry City manager has been in ongoing negotiations with several members of his squad who are out of contract at the end of the season.

However, with players ‘hanging around’ for the best deal according to the City boss, Shiels says he’s ‘hamstrung’ as he attempts to build towards the 2019 campaign.

The Maghera man has been frustrated with the alarmingly low rate of local players coming through the youth system and is struggling to compete with other League of Ireland’s clubs for the top talent.

And he admits he’s concerned about where he can unearth potential transfers in the close season. While he’s wary about sounding overly ‘negative’, he stressed it’s simply the reality of the current situation at the club.

“I’m doing my best but football is not what it used to be,” said the City boss. “It used to be you come to the end of the season and you sign your players. Now they’re waiting and hanging around, seeing the best deal they can get and that’s the culture we’re in.

WAITING GAME . . .  Rory Hale, Kevin McHattie and Aaron McEneff have been involved in ongoing contract talks with Kenny Shiels

WAITING GAME . . . Rory Hale, Kevin McHattie and Aaron McEneff have been involved in ongoing contract talks with Kenny Shiels

“I can’t do anything about that. If you are Cork or Dundalk or Shamrock Rovers or Waterford you can. You can offer them a really nice package but we can’t. So let’s be realistic and see what we can do.

“I’ll lose players this season again,” he stated. “That maybe sounds negative but that’s a reality. You have to try and separate reality from negativity and you have to look at the reality of it.”

Shiels first ‘challenge’ is to keep the players he wants on board for next season and while he has identified potential additions from the Irish League, he claims he won’t be able to secure their signatures until next summer.

“You try to keep what you have,” he explained. “That’s my first challenge. If I can’t achieve that I don’t know where I’m going for players. I can’t get local lads, they’re playing in the Irish League.

“There’s five or six players I can get from the Irish League but that won’t be until July. We’re well into the second half of the season then so that’s my problem. They’re tied up with their Irish League clubs. I’m just hamstrung to be honest.

“They talk about local players. A local player for us now is a Belfast lad. We just can’t get Derry players and that’s my biggest issue at the minute.”

Cork City boss, John Caulfield, who arrives at Brandywell tonight, has also bemoaned a considerable reduction in his budget for the 2019 campaign but it pales into insignificance given the financial restraints Shiels will likely have to contend with given the failure to qualify for Europe.

It’s understood that Cork City are to cut the outlay on their first team by up to €300,000 but Shiels isn’t convinced the reductions will have a significant impact on Caulfield’s transfer kitty.

“We need to get the figures right here,” he said. “In the Europea League you get E225,000 (participation money). And because they won the league last year they got e825,000.

“So they have E500,000 less to work with next season. They’ve cut the budget in accordance. They’ve taken the E500,000 off it. It’s not down to E500,000 by the way. It’s E500,000 less than what it was. There’s a big difference.”