The Brandywell Stadium has become a popular destination for some of the league’s best talents with Higgins at the helm and the increased financial backing of Chairman, Mr Philip O’Doherty, has no doubt boosted the club’s pulling power in the transfer market. Patrick McEleney and Michael Duffy’s high profile return has opened the doors for others to follow suit as expectations gather pace on Foyleside.
As Higgins attempts to build a squad capable of challenging for honours next season, the calibre of signings during the close season will have made other clubs stand up and take notice.
League title winner with Dundalk, Cameron Dummigan and Ireland U21 midfielder Brandon Kavanagh are the latest through the Brandywell gates this week following closely in the footsteps of Will Patching, ex-Bray goalkeeper Brian Maher and former Finn Harps defender Shane McEleney.
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That takes Higgins’ close season signings to SEVEN but he insists there will be ONE more new addition before the start of pre-season on January 3rd while Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe may yet return for 2022.
“Players see what’s happening here and they’re excited by it,” said Higgins when asked if he was surprised at being able to attract the league’s top talents.
“Also, Brandon would’ve known Brian Maher from Bray last year. They will live together which is a big help. Cameron Dummigan knows a number of players here. He’s from Lurgan and these things are a big help. I’ve worked with Cameron so I know him and he knows me. All these things help and I’m delighted to be able to bring the two of them to the club.”
When Higgins took charge last April he inherited a team languishing at the foot of the table but managed to dramatically turn around their fortunes. Making striker Jamie McGonigle, Junior and Gerard Storey his first signings in the summer window, he’s wasted no time in making the squad his own once the 2021 season drew to a close.
“We’ve brought in seven along with the group we already had. Obviously some have already left the club so the squad size won’t be drastically bigger. I just feel we’ve added more depth and quality.
“I think there will be real competition for places now which is vital. If we do anything between now and the start of pre-season it will be one more maximum. I’m just delighted. I know it seems a bit mad that we’ve signed so many so close together.
“I’m just glad we’ve been organised, been on the front foot and got our business done early which has been massively important in terms of planning. A lot of players are back in the gym but we officially start back on January 3rd so the next few weeks gives us plenty of time to organise and prepare for pre-season.
“I want us to be an exciting team. From one to 11 I want everyone to be able to look after the ball. Obviously you have to have defensive discipline and a good defensive structure but you also want to enjoy watching your team play.
“Talk is cheap but I think we’ve signed good players, technical players and players who also work hard, and that will be a key part of it. Everyone will have to work extremely hard to stay in the team.
“We need people working extremely hard but we also want players expressing themselves and I think we’ve added real talent.”