PATRICK McClean claims he received the ‘perfect Christmas present’ when told he was free to complete his move from Sligo Rovers to Derry City this week.
The 22 year-old defender is expected to make a return for a second stint with his hometown club in the coming days after spells with Waterford and Sligo.
McClean had one year remaining on his two-year contract with the Bit O’Red but was informed over the weekend that the two clubs had reached an agreement.
The Creggan lad returned home to Derry last night from England where he was staying with his older brother, Stoke City winger, James and expects to sign a contract with the Candy Stripes later this week.
“As far as I know a deal has been agreed, it’s just a matter of me signing now for Derry,” confirmed McClean.
“I’m home now and I’m happy. It’s the perfect Christmas present,” he laughed.
McClean was released by former Candy Stripes manager, Kenny Shiels at the end of the 2016 season having made just 13 appearances that campaign.
He signed for Waterford in January 2017 and was a key player as the Blues clinched the First Division title and promotion to the top flight.
A move to Sligo Rovers followed at the start of the 2018 campaign but he’s delighted to finally secure his return to Brandywell after two years on the road.
“I didn’t want to leave the club to start with and now I have the chance to go back after two years of waiting so I’m delighted.
“I think I needed the experience of going away and playing. I was too comfortable just sitting in Derry and being on the bench.
“I went to Waterford in the First Division and got promoted. I captained the team for most of the season and that helped me massively,” he insisted.
“I got back into the Premier last year and played against Derry and the bigger teams and it helped me develop into a better player.”
The return of Declan Devine and his all-Derry backroom team was a huge factor in McClean’s decision to return to Foyleside and he’s looking forward to working under the new City boss should he agree personal terms with the club this week.
“Whenever I seen the backroom staff that went in I was excited straight away. There was no talks at this stage but I felt I wanted to go back and be a part of it.
“They have big plans for next season and I’m really excited for it to be back to the way Derry City used to be rather than the way they were the last couple of years.
“I think Derry’s problem the last couple of years was they brought in anyone they could but you look at the number of players that didn’t kick a ball. That’s not what playing for Derry is about. It never was for me. You go out and play in front of your friends and family and now the club are intent on bringing in good, quality players who want to play football with passion. So I expect it to be a good year.
“You’re playing for one of the biggest clubs in Ireland. How can that not motivate you. People are paying money to come and watch you and they’re from your town so that gives you that extra boost and confidence and energy. That’s what it’s all about.”