Soccer

Ruaidhrí Higgins turns attention to strengthening Derry City squad following second place league finish

Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins says he will be looking to make some additions to his squad in the coming weeks   Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins says he will be looking to make some additions to his squad in the coming weeks Picture: Margaret McLaughlin Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins says he will be looking to make some additions to his squad in the coming weeks Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins will be looking to strengthen his squad over the next few weeks.

On Friday night, the Candystripes ended their 2023 campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over FAI Cup finalists St Patrick’s Athletic thanks to goals from Brandon Kavanagh, Will Patching and Jordan McEneff and Higgins is already planning for next year.

City are believed to be tracking Shamrock Rovers striker Rory Gaffney and Dundalk winger Daniel Kelly, but the Limavady man wasn’t giving anything away, but did state that if he adds to his squad then some players will have to depart.

"The next couple of weeks will be busy and hopefully I can get as much work done in those weeks as possible so I can go and take a breather myself. It's badly needed to make sure I, and the staff, come back along with the players refreshed and raring to go,” explained the Derry gaffer.

"I want to bring to the club players who can score goals. Whether that's wide players who can score goals. We've come up short in that department.

“If you look at the goals for (column) it will be up there with one of the highest but there's been too many games we haven't scored in this year.

"So whether it's wide players, centre forwards, scoring goals from set plays, midfield players, we need to score more goals, that's the bottom line. When we're recruiting and looking at what we do next, then that has to be a priority.

"If there's players coming in then one or two will obviously have to leave as well.”

The Candystripes chairman Philip O’Doherty has also confirmed that he’s willing to open the cheque book again in the off-season, but Higgins insisted that he has a budget.

“Philip (O'Doherty) has been absolutely brilliant to me but I have a budget, contrary to reports," stated the 39-year-old.

 "Getting Europe in our first season in 2021 was a big help because it probably accelerated the process but Philip has been brilliant and has backed me. He does say 'no' at times as well. He does! But he's been absolutely brilliant.

“He's been a great chairman and great to work with. We have a great working relationship. So we want to push this on now."

Derry City were comfortable 3-0 winners over FAI Cup finalists St Pat's Athletic in their final game of the season on Friday night      Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Derry City were comfortable 3-0 winners over FAI Cup finalists St Pat's Athletic in their final game of the season on Friday night Picture: Margaret McLaughlin Derry City were comfortable 3-0 winners over FAI Cup finalists St Pat's Athletic in their final game of the season on Friday night Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

With both Gaffney and Kelly free agents now that the season has concluded, the Limavady man is expected to make his move sooner rather than later with the ex-Salford striker possibly his number one target. 

"We're in the market for good players and he's a good player,” Higgins admitted about Gaffney, who this season played a big part in Rovers’ claiming fourth league title in-a=row.

"To be honest we're in a league now where clubs are signing players on longer deals. It's not the case where every year players are out of contract. He is out of contract as are a few others. We're in the market for good players and he's a good player."