KENNY SHIELS says talks with former Dundalk and Sligo Rovers winger, Keith Ward, are at an early stage and he’s hoping the Dubliner can play some part in Derry City’s pre-season clash with Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds tomorrow night.
Ward, who has won the Premier Division title with Dundalk and the First Division trophy with UCD, is currently out-of-contract and Shiels believes he could, potentially, be the missing link in his new-look Derry City squad.
I would like to get him on board. But I need to sit down and talk with him and get him signed before the deadline so there’s a lot of work to be done on it.Kenny Shiels
Should Ward impress tomorrow night, Shiels is hoping to advance negotiations quickly as he would face a race against time to secure the player’s signature, although the FAI do allow some grace for the signing of out-of-contract players after Monday’s transfer deadline.
Ward (25) would be regarded as a direct replacement for ex-City winger, Mark Timlin, as a goal threat from the left flank, but Shiels isn’t getting carried away and stressed that he will assess the player tomorrow night before further talks are planned.
“I’m in talks with him and hoping to get him up for the game in Sligo,” revealed Shiels. “I would like to get him on board. But I need to sit down and talk with him and get him signed before the deadline so there’s a lot of work to be done on it. It’s very early stages and we haven’t had the chance to sit down and talk yet.
“We’ll see if we can meet up this weekend,” he added. “There’s a good chance of him playing against Sligo and, then, we’ll see if we can get something agreed after that.
“He would be a good addition,” agreed Shiels. “He’s a League of Ireland player and I was speaking with a few of the lads about him and they rate him highly. He’s available and out of contract so we’ll see how it develops.”
The 5ft 6’ winger has been unfortunate with injuries in recent years and sustained a devastating knee cruciate injury in 2013 before making a successful comeback the following season.
“That’s always a concern,” admitted Shiels. “You don’t want to sign a player who could be out injured all the time. A cruciate is a serious injury but we’ll assess him and see what happens. He’s a good player but, when your signing a player, you just don’t sign him on what he’s done in the past. You have to weigh up a lot of other circumstances.”