Ruaidhri Higgins says he wouldn't be surprised to see Evan McLaughlin return to Derry City in future

DERRY CITY boss Ruaidhri Higgins hailed Evan McLaughlin's 'brilliant contribution' and said he wouldn't be surprised to see him return to the Candy Stripes in the future after the player announced his departure from his hometown club earlier this week.
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The 21 year-old midfielder departed the Brandywell club stating he was 'buzzing for the next chapter' in his career.

"My time at Derry City has come to an end," he announced on social media. "I have some great memories from the academy right through. Buzzing for the next chapter."

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McLaughlin was handed his senior debut by Ruaidhri Higgins in July 2021 when he scored in a 2-0 win over Waterford at Brandywell and the City boss hailed his character later the same month when he stepped up to take the fifth and decisive penalty kick in a shootout at Drogheda which saw Derry progress to the second round of the FAI Cup.

With first team appearances limited due to the return of Will Patching from Dundalk and the addition of Sadou Diallo, McLaughlin went on a short term loan to Coleraine in the summer of 2020 before joining up with the Derry squad for preseason last January.

He made just three appearances, all from the bench, in 2023 having taken out for a health procedure early in the campaign and made his comeback as a substitute in the 3-0 win over St Patrick's Athletic in the final game of the season at Brandywell.

That proved to be his final game for Derry as he looks for regular football elsewhere but Higgins believes the former Foyle Harps man, who made 33 appearances and scored three goals during his time on Foyleside, could potentially return to the club later in his career and replicate the impact players like Ben Doherty and Ciaron Harkin have made at the club.

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"When I first came back in April 2021 Evan wasn't registered to play for the club for whatever reason until July 1st," said Higgins. "We had a game here on July 1st against Waterford at home and put him straight in because Will Patching had departed to go back to Dundalk.

Evan McLaughlin has left Derry City. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 42Evan McLaughlin has left Derry City. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 42
Evan McLaughlin has left Derry City. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2305GS – 42

"So we put Evan straight into the team and he did really well. It's just been difficult for him to nail down a starting place but Evan, particularly in the early stages, made a brilliant contribution here.

"He's had a wee health procedure over the last seven months he's had to manage and we've kept the lid on that to protect him a bit but Evan's very, very clear that he wants to go and pursue first team football and I can't argue with that at all because it's a short career and he wants to play.

"You've seen the likes of Ben Doherty, Sam Todd, Ciaron Harkin and all those types of players who have gone and got real valuable experience elsewhere and then came back and it wouldn't surprise me at all if something similar happens with Evan. I want to wish him all the best in whatever move he makes next."