Institute boss Brian Donaghey insists players won't leave unless it suits everyone
Former English Premier League champions, Leicester City are believed to be tracking Institute youngster Oisin Devlin.
Having only burst into the ’Stute first team this season, Brendan Rodgers’ side are thought to be keeping tabs on the teenagers’ progress.
Institute manager Brian Donaghey, would not be drawn on which clubs in particular have been watching Devlin, but he did reveal he was aware some of his players were being tracked by Danske Bank Premiership sides.
The likes of centre-back Shaun Leppard and Devlin are both thought to being watched by a host of top flight Irish League and League of Ireland clubs.
In fact Coleraine manager Oran Kearney was an interested spectator at the Ryan McBride Brandywell during Saturday’s encounter against leaders Loughgall.
"I told the guys not to let Oran in,” laughed Donaghey, “Listen, jokes aside, we’ve had quite a few enquiries but we’re coming into that part of the season.
“Good players, and players who are doing well in the Championship, are obviously going to attract attention. We’ve got a few lads who are on professional contracts and those lads seem to be happy at Institute, but if interest comes then we’ll have to deal with it.
"We’ll sit down with the chairman (Bill Anderson) and see if it’s good for the club but no matter what happens, any deal is going to have to suit the club.
"We’re not going to be in a position were we just let our better players go. If those players want to move on and we can get some good remuneration for them, then we’ll speak about it but at this minute in time no one is telling me that they’re not happy at the club.”
With a host of games in the Championship and Premiership postponed last weekend, Donaghey conceded that he noticed a few familiar faces at the Brandywell last weekend.
"I think with many Championship teams not playing last Saturday there were three or four Championship managers at our game. They were having a look at us and Loughgall to see how they could maybe cause us problems when they play us,” he confirmed.
Donaghey believes the standard in the Lough 41 Championship is improving which is another reason why clubs from the top flight are maintaining an interest in their players.
"Last Saturday’s match against Loughgall was a good game and a good advertisement for Championship football,” he added.
"Championship football is definitely improving. The product is very, very good in the NIFL Premiership and I think the Championship is probably as good as I can remember it.
"Teams are well balanced, technically they’re getting better, they are more tactically astute as well and, listen, that can only be good for football in this country.”
One man who is definitely departing the Drumahoe club in a few weeks time is midfielder Mark McFadden who is moving to Boston in the New Year, much to Donaghey’s disappointment.
"Unfortunately for us Mark is going back to America in the New Year. Obviously it’s disappointing but good luck to him,” admitted the ’Stute boss.
The Waterside men travel to second placed Annagh United on Saturday (KO 3pm) looking to become the first team to win at the BMG Arena.
United are unbeaten in 10 home games this season and they had an impressive win over Premiership leaders Larne in October, knocking the Inver Park men out of the Bet McLean Cup.
"We’ve dusted ourselves down and learn from our mistakes against Loughgall but taking a point against the league leaders isn’t that bad a result,” added Donaghey.
"The boys had their annual Christmas night out last Saturday and now we’ve a lot of games coming up and to be fair it was they are all fully focused on what we have to do.
"We’ve prepared properly for Annagh this week and I’m expecting another humdinger of a game.”
’Stute travel to Portadown with centre-back Dylan King is still missing, but on the plus side Shaun Doherty will be pushing for a place back in the starting line-up after the midfielder came on against Dean Smith’s side last weekend.
"Dylan is still suspended, but Sean Doc coming on last week gave us a bit of experience in midfield and helped us see out the game,” explained Donaghey.
"Alonzo (Clarke) has gone through a mountain of work and young Oisin, who we took off last week at half-time, had been out of three weeks. It was difficult for him but he’s 16-years-old and he, along with Ronan McAleer, accepted the decision to change things around.”