Five top signings Derry City could make to improve their squad this summer

RUAIDHRI Higgins' Derry City side were in desperate need of the midseason break after a run of winless matches which derailed their title tilt.

By Simon Collins
Sunday, 12th June 2022, 9:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 12th June 2022, 9:11 pm
Former Linfield striker Christy Manzinga is a free agent since leaving Windsor Park at the end of the Irish League season.
Former Linfield striker Christy Manzinga is a free agent since leaving Windsor Park at the end of the Irish League season.

Injuries to key players in recent weeks certainly didn't help a squad which was light on the ground with experience and already missing long term absentees Ciaron Harkin and Michael Duffy. Patrick McEleney and later Cameron Dummigan's absence coincided with that downturn in results and performances as Derry struggled to replace players with title winning experience.

Midfielder Gerard Storey has since departed Brandywell for Cliftonville after the ex-Portsmouth player's move didn't work out with limited gametime since signing in August 2021.

His exit frees up room for new blood to arrive this summer with Higgins admitting he's actively pursuing transfer targets that will help revive Derry's faltering league campaign and bolster the ranks going into Europa Conference League action next month.

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Josh Daniels is a free agent since leaving League One outfit Shrewsbury Town at the end of the season.

Will Patching's commitment to a new deal in recent days will no doubt convince others to follow suit with Higgins' intent on bringing success back to the club.

What's certain is there will be new arrivals through the Brandywell gates in the coming weeks to reinforce a depleted squad going into the second half of the season.

"We probably need to add a couple in the summer to help us and obviously try and get our injured players back as soon as possible," said Higgins after the draw with Finn Harps before the break.

So with potential incomings and Higgins choosing to keep his cards close to his chest, we've taken a look at five potential targets who would improve Higgins' side going into the second half of the season.

Midfield talent Jordan McEneff has been released from Arsenal after over six years at the London club.

Let us know who you would like to see Derry City open the chequebook for in the summer transfer window.

Send your thoughts to [email protected] or get in touch on Twitter: @SimonCollins82

JOSH DANIELS

The former Candy Stripe winger announced his departure from League One outfit Shrewsbury Town at the end of the season and is enjoying some down time before considering his next move.

Whether that includes a return home to Brandywell at this stage of his career remains to be seen but with two seasons of full-time football behind him and over 50 first team appearances under his belt at Montgomery Waters Meadow, he would certainly be considered a welcome addition to Higgins' side.

It's understood the former Top of the Hill Celtic man, who earned his first professional contract with Derry in 2013, may feel like he's got unfinished business with City and having gained much experience at right wing-back during his time at Shrewsbury, his versatility could be an attractive trait for the City manager who is light on options on the right side.

LIAM KERRIGAN

The skilful Ireland U21 international is considered one of the most exciting talents in the country and caught the eye when Derry travelled to UCD last April, the Candy Stripes eventually grinding out a 2-0 win but Kerrigan had his chances and looked dangerous in that encounter at the Belfield.

Higgins was in Tallaght watching Jim Crawford's side win 3-1 against Montenegro last Monday night where Kerrigan scored the second for the Boys in Green from close range. The City supremo is fully aware of the quality Kerrigan possesses and he will be on his radar, particularly given the commerce student has finished up his final exams at UCD and is more likely to move on to full-time football.

The problem is there will be stiff competition from all the top League of Ireland clubs who would be foolish not to pursue his signature. A cross-Channel move may beckon and could be the likeliest scenario for Kerrigan but if Higgins can talk him into joining his Brandywell revolution it would be a major coup. His pace, acceleration and ability and willingness to take a man would quickly make him a fans' favourite on Foyleside.

CHRISTY MANZINGA

The 26 year-old French striker, who began his career with Paris Saint-Germain, parted company with Linfield recently following the expiration of his contract but he left quite an impression at Windsor Park during the past two seasons.

Scoring several memorable and decisive goals, Manzinga netted 23 strikes in total during 58 appearances for David Healy's side with 21 of those as a substitute. Linfield rivals Glentoran were understood to be interested in bringing him across Belfast to the Oval but perhaps Ruaidhri Higgins sees him as an option to bolster his firepower going into a busy second half of the season.

The onus has been on Jamie McGonigle, James Akintunde and Matty Smith to provide the goals and Manzinga's pace and power could give Higgins an additional option up front.

JORDAN McENEFF

The talented 21 year-old midfielder, the younger brother of ex-Derry City and current Hearts midfielder Aaron, has recently been released by Arsenal after more than six years with the Gunners. He was highly rated at London Colney but after recovering from a long term injury it was always going to be difficult to convince the Premiership club to offer another professional deal.

His loan move to Shelbourne once Damien Duff made the call, was an exciting opportunity as he looked to fulfil his undoubted potential in the top flight of the League of Ireland. He's twice come up against his hometown club this season and it's evident he's got bags of talent and possesses composure and maturity beyond his years.

Ruaidhri Higgins is a close family friend of the McEneffs and was contemplating a move for the player during the close season so it wouldn't be surprising if the Limavady man was to reignite that interest and snap him up from under the noses of Premier Division rivals, Shels who are understood to be keen to keep him for the remainder of the season. Perhaps a return home, and to a club on the rise, is the best move for the youngster at this crucial stage in his career.

JACK MOYLAN

Another Shelbourne player and another of the League of Ireland's most exciting young talents. He's under contract with the Dublin club so would require a fee and no doubt Damien Duff would be reluctant to let him leave to a rival club. That doesn't mean an enticing financial offer wouldn't tempt the Tolka Park outfit to sell.

The 20 year-old attacking midfielder from north Dublin hasn't yet reached his peak form due to a hamstring injury sustained against Derry earlier this season but found his range before the mid-season break, scoring three in the last five fixtures. He was one of three second half substitutes who helped turn the game on its head when Shelbourne came from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory at Brandywell back in April.

Moylan fits the Higgins' mould in terms of young, exciting attacking talents that would enhance Derry's squad but a potential move would prove tricky and perhaps unlikely in the forthcoming summer window.

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