Cliftonville in race to replace Liam Boyce
Eddie Patterson last night questioned why a full round of Carling Premiership fixtures has been scheduled on the night that the summer transfer window closes.
And with the Cliftonville manager about to see his most prized asset head to Germany, Patterson has been left swimming against the tide to net a replacement for the departing Liam Boyce.
A glamour move to German giants Werder Bremen hinges on Boyce successfully completing a medical this morning, with a fee already agreed between the clubs and personal terms sorted out.
The 19-year-old had been on the brink of joining another german side, SpVgg Greuther Furth in the second tier of the Bundesliga, only for the club’s failure to follow through with the deal.
At that stage Patterson thought he was going to have the Northern Ireland under-21 international in his squad until at least January, only for things to progress rapidly yesterday, with Boyce flying to Germany to undergo the medical.
Werder made their move after a club representative saw Boyce score in Friday’s 3-1 north-Belfast derby victory over Crusaders, which saw the Reds make it three wins in as many matches at the start of the season.
“If this had happened during the summer then we’d have had a bit of time to work on getting someone in,” said Patterson, whose side will attempt to overtake Carling Premiership leaders Glentoran tonight by winning at the Oval.
“Even if Liam had gone last week we’d have had a couple of days.
“Now we’re left with very little time to try to do something and we haven’t been helped by the fact that we have a game on Tuesday night.
“It’s not ideal and everyone has been left in the situation where between six o’clock and after 10 o’clock we can’t do anything in terms of talking to players because we’ll be preparing for and be involved in a match.
“Those few hours are the time when we’d usually be talking to players, trying to get deals finalised, but we will only have a maximum of two hours — probably less — after the matches are finished to get things done before the transfer window closes.”
Losing Boyce, irrespective of the timing, is far from ideal for the Reds, no matter how much the club banks from Werder — particularly as Patterson has earmarked this as the season when major silverware finally arrives at Solitude after a gap of seven years.
Patterson, however, isn’t one of those managers who thinks only of himself.
“Yes, there is a bit of a case of mixed emotions, but I am more of the opinion that I would like to see boys from Cliftonville go and fulfil their potential,” said Patterson.
“It does work against what we’re trying to do at the club because we are building towards having something to show for our efforts at the end of this season and Liam Boyce has been a big part of our team over the last 12 months.
“It’s a blessing in disguise for Liam that the move fell through last week because he’s now going to move to a bigger club, which is great for him individually and ultimately great for Northern Ireland as well.”