'I wouldn't swap David Parkhouse for any other striker in the league': Declan Devine
DECLAN DEVINE insists he wouldn’t swap David Parkhouse for any other striker in the League of Ireland.
That’s a huge vote of confidence for the 21 year-old N. Ireland underage international ahead of the big kick-off tomorrow night in Longford.
Parkhouse is back for a second spell at the Brandywell club and Devine is excited to see how his new-look attack gels. Derry scored just 18 league goals in 18 matches last season and given Parkhouse netted 19 times himself in 2019, it bodes well for the year ahead.
Add Will Patching to the mix, a player Devine believes has the potential to become his best ever signing for Derry City, and there’s plenty to be excited about.
“I wouldn’t swap David Parkhouse for any other centre forward in the league,” insisted Devine. “He’s everything I want. I want a 21 year-old centre forward who is willing to do an incredible amount of work.
“We know Parky’s career is only starting so I wouldn’t swap him for the world. He’s infectious in the way he goes about his job. His presence and willingness to work for the team is something I absolutely love.”
Devine believes his 2021 squad possesses bags of talent and while it’s youthful, he reckons it’s got a nice blend of youth and experience.
“With Patching, I can only say what I see and what I see is a player with bags of ability. We’ve got to get him fitter, stronger and up to match speed as he hasn’t played a lot of football over the last couple of years.
“We have players who can compliment his natural ability. He will only get better. We genuinely believe he’s a top player. He excites me as quite a few of them do.
“There’s no pressure on the boy. I just want him to come here and enjoy his football and showcase his talent - that’s the bottom line. Time will tell. He just has to get in, get playing and get games under his belt.
“I’m excited but at the same time 100 per cent grounded. We know we have a lot of work to do and will try to continue to get better as the season evolves.
“We’ve a lot of young players who are going to test themselves in senior football for the first time. We’ve players and staff, myself included, who have a lot to prove this year. But I’m really excited.
“There’s a nice harmony about the team and an honesty about the players. We’re still getting to know each other so the target for us is to hit the ground running but we have to improve every week as we move forward.
“Our squad is young but don’t underestimate the experience. We have Darren Cole who has played in the Champions League for Glasgow Rangers.
"Danny Lafferty was a full international who played at the highest possible level. Ciaran Coll has nearly 300 senior appearances, Ciaron Harkin who has 200 senior appearances and played in the Irish Cup Final. We have an U21 international captain.
“We have Joe Thomson who played in the SPL for a number of years so, yes, we are young but we’ve got people who have been at a very high level who will help these young players mature and come through what will be a real up and down tough season.”
Daire Doyle’s Longford team will be determined to take Derry’s scalp on their first return to the top flight in four years.
It’s always a tricky fixture to travel to a newly promoted team in the opening game and Devine doesn’t expect an easy night at Bishopsgate.
“The opening game of the season, no matter who you play or where you play, it’s always going to be a difficult game. We’ve been telling the players we can’t underestimate anybody in the league this year. We are a brand new, young squad who are trying to achieve something and looking to put a marker down.
“There’s definitely not going to be any games we’ll be turning up to and thinking we’re entitled to something. We have to earn our right in everything we do.”
Apart from Joe Hodge (back), Devine has a full squad to choose from as the Candy Stripes try to get off the mark.