Derry City's Declan Devine tight-lipped on Man City's Joe Hodge link

DECLAN DEVINE remained tight-lipped on speculation linking Derry City with a sensational loan signing of Manchester City and Ireland starlet Joe Hodge.
Derry City boss, Declan Devine refused to be drawn on speculation linking Derry with Man City starlet, Joe Hodge.Derry City boss, Declan Devine refused to be drawn on speculation linking Derry with Man City starlet, Joe Hodge.
Derry City boss, Declan Devine refused to be drawn on speculation linking Derry with Man City starlet, Joe Hodge.

The Candy Stripes have been heavily linked with the Manchester born playmaker and are understood to be one of several League of Ireland clubs vying for his signature.

Champions Shamrock Rovers have recently emerged as potential suitors while Waterford have also been strongly linked but Derry are expected to be among the front runners to secure the 18 year-old’s services.

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When asked about the possibility of bringing Man City’s reigning ‘Scholar of the Year’ to Brandywell this season, Devine refused to be drawn on the transfer ‘speculation’ but did admit he was on the lookout for at least two more players before the League of Ireland deadline at the end of the month.

“I’m aware that there’s speculation but it’s not something I’m not prepared to talk about until there’s been proper progress and we can get meat on the bones,” said the City manager.

“We’re working hard behind the scenes on bringing players in and we will continue to do so.

“I’m certainly on the lookout for at least two or three more players but first and foremost they need to be the right fit and they need to be able to strengthen us as a group.”

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Devine took his first pre-season training session yesterday morning and was delighted to get back to the Brandywell Stadium.

“We’re in a very privileged position being able to play football for a living,” he said. “It’s a very different environment with all the Covid regulations in place but it was great to get back at the Brandywell and good to see the likes of Danny Lafferty and David Parkhouse all back with the squad.

“If the gates were open (to the public) you would’ve seen a lot of young boys, the likes of Jack Lemoignan, Ronan Boyce and Patrick Ferry, Nathan Gartside and the under-19s - there were so many young players which is great to see and they will have a big part to play this season.”

While he’s still in the market for two or three new additions, he’s delighted to have improved the team’s physicality - a key attribute which was missing in his team last season.

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“This year we are a much more physical side with the likes of Danny Lupano, James Akintunde, Darren Cole, David Parkhouse and Danny Lafferty who all offer that physicality.

“Last year we lacked that and we conceded far too many goals from set pieces as a result and we needed to improve. It will be a much smaller squad than last year in terms of numbers.

"We won’t have 23 or 24 players. It will be a smaller group and we will have a few more of the youth team stepping up too. It will certainly provide opportunities for the younger boys. We have room for improvement and we definitely need another couple of players and we’re working hard in our attempts to add to the group.”

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