Ex Sheffield United defender Danny Lafferty confident he'll find a new club this summer
DANNY Lafferty has backed himself to find another Championship club this summer and claims he isn’t about to panic following his recent release from Premiership-bound, Sheffield United.
The former Derry City left-back spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Blades, winning promotion from League One in the 2017/18 season but was on the periphery of the squad which clinched a first return to the top flight of English football in 12 years.
He made just one appearance for the Steel City club in the 2018/19 campaign as a substitute against Aston Villa before securing a loan move to League One outfit, Peterborough United in January where he became a regular, playing 21 times.
Having been part of Burnley’s promotion to the Premiership as well as Derry City’s First Division title winning side in 2010, Lafferty can loosely claim a fourth senior football promotion on his CV, despite his limited game-time at Bramall Lane.
And it’s an impressive CV which boasts stints at Celtic, Burnley and Sheffield United alongside loan spells with Rotherham, Oldham and Peterborough.
“I will be remembered more for the League One winning season at Sheffield United instead of this season,” he admitted. “I made one sub appearance this season but I’ll be putting that on the CV whenever I go to the job centre. That’s another promotion,” he laughed. “I think, if you include this year, that’s four promotions in about 30 or 40 games.”
His release from Chris Wilder’s side didn’t come as a surprise and he felt his short spell at Peterborough was the right move in terms of planning for the future.
“It came as no surprise,” he claimed. “Obviously my contract was due to expire as was a number of other lads there who were all in the same situation. Players who have been at the club for a long time, players like Paul Coutts, who were instrumental in the promotion season, then just found themselves out of favour and lacking game time.
“Our contracts were due to expire and due to the success of the team, naturally with the club moving up into the Premier League, they’re going to look to strengthen with quality.
“Yes, it’s been frustrating in terms of not getting a place in the team especially when you see where the club has progressed to. To be involved in that would’ve been unbelievable. I went and had a meeting with Chris and he thanked me for everything over the last two and a half years at the club.
“So we’ve found ourselves surplus to requirements but it came as no surprise. I’ve known about it for months and that’s the reason I went out in January to Peterborough, to play and get myself out there and get game time, thinking towards the future in terms of next season and finding myself a club.”
At 29 years of age, the Northern Ireland international who has 13 caps to his name, believes he can still offer plenty at Championship level but he’s not stressing about finding a new club just yet.
That’s partly due to his confidence in his own ability but mostly because he’s got a significant date on the horizon. Indeed, the talented defender is preparing to tie the knot with his long-term girlfriend, Derry girl, Rachel Fahy at the Loch Eske Castle in Co. Donegal next month. Wedding preparations for an Irish wedding from his English home have been tricky but he admits he’s taken a backseat when it comes to organising his big day.
“It’s just around the corner. We’re four weeks out now so I’m looking forward to that,” he smiled.
Father to two children, Cian (10) and Caleb (2), he’s got plenty to keep himself occupied with in the close season and so he’ll bide his time when it comes to looking for a new football club.
While he got on well with Posh boss, Darren Ferguson, it’s unlikely he will be returning to the ABAX Stadium next season due to financial reasons and he’s hoping to find somewhere closer to his Sheffield base with his eldest son, Cian well settled in school.
“I really enjoyed it there and played plenty of football so that was the top priority. I had a really good connection with Darren Ferguson and I get what he’s trying to do down there.
“We spoke towards the end of the season regarding the possibility of returning there for next season but that looks highly unlikely, purely down to financial reasons.
“Considering the season has just finished, I already had a phone call from a manager in the football league expressing their interest,” he revealed. “But I’m not going to dive into anything.
“Hopefully over the next few weeks and coming months the interest will grow from other clubs who are just finishing up and taking holidays. Managers will have to go and revisit their board in terms of finances for next year and things like that but hopefully it will start taking shape over the next few weeks.
“I’m not worried. I’m finishing the season the same way I finish every season. I’m not panicking, thinking ‘God, what’s next?’. Whenever things start rolling there will be things I’ll want to take into consideration.
“We’re based happily in Sheffield here and with my eldest kid in school and well settled. So wherever I go, preferably it would be commutable and quite local.
“That was one of the frustrations regarding the Peterborough move. I was given the permission to commute but it was a long journey. Whenever offers start to come to the table I’ll weigh up what the best option for myself and the family will be.
“If June 20th comes around and I’m still unemployed then I’ll start to panic then a little bit. But at this stage of my career I will be looking to go somewhere and play every week and be the first choice and in an environment where you can really enjoy it at whatever football club that may be.”
And he sees his future at Championship level: “I back myself to play in the Championship all day long. I played quite a bit in League One over the past few years with Sheffield United and Oldham and I know that league well. It’s not to say I find it easier but sometimes I find myself a bit in cruise control.
“Championship is obviously where I want to look first but it’s considerably more difficult to get to a Championship club. Hopefully the fact I’m coming from Sheffield United whose reputation and stock is quite high at the minute, hopefully that stands me in good stead.”