Belfast Telegraph

Four clubs approach Institute goal machine Michael McCrudden

 

By Graham Luney

Glenavon and Ballymena United have joined the race to net Institute goal machine Michael McCrudden.

The 'Stute skipper has been banging in the goals for fun in the Danske Bank Premiership and now top clubs are scrambling to snap him up.

Institute have offered their frontman a new contract but McCrudden, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is talking to other clubs and weighing up his options.

Coleraine and his hometown club Derry City have expressed strong interest but they aren't alone with the Sky Blues and Lurgan Blues making contact.

"Ballymena United, Glenavon, Coleraine and Derry City have made approaches as far as I am aware and it wouldn't surprise me if there were a few more," admitted 'Stute boss Paddy McLaughlin.

At the moment it appears that McCrudden's next move could be in the north-west but it's hardly surprising clubs across the island are showing interest.

The 27-year-old striker has lit up the Premiership this season, firing his newly-promoted side to seventh spot in the table.

"A few clubs have been contacting us and you are sometimes afraid to answer the phone," added the 'Stute boss.

"He's been top drawer and it's only right people are interested in him.

"They aren't interested in him because he's a bad player.

"As a manager you have to stand back and allow players to talk to other clubs.

"It's never nice but that's what happens when players are just on one-year deals.

"We can only hope that Michael sees his future with us rather than wanting to go elsewhere.

"The club have offered him a new deal but Michael is willing to look at what options he has.

"He's earned himself this opportunity to decide where his future lies. The club can only wait to see what he decides to do.

"It's 50-50 in terms of his decision. Michael knows how much he is loved and respected here and enjoys the responsibility of being captain.

"But football is football and big clubs with greater potential and finances can appeal to players, Michael's no different.

"As one of the best players in the country he's earned the right to talk to the best clubs in the country.

"Look at Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley who has been one of the best frontmen in Irish League history and Michael has matched him stride for stride.

"Coleraine have a strong interest in the player but of course Michael is spoilt for choice, with Derry being his hometown club.

"But we haven't given up hope that he will continue to be a massive part in what we are trying to achieve.

"He's the centre-piece of everything we do and hopefully he'll turn down the offers.

"At the moment he's our player and here for the rest of the reason."

While McCrudden's exploits may have surprised a few this season, McLaughlin always saw it coming. "It's no shock to myself, my staff or the players," he added.

"We've seen how good he is in training and in games for the last 18 months.

"He was Championship Player of the Year last year and won a few player of the month awards, including two this season. He's real quality and the rest of the country are now seeing it. I've known it for two years."

If McCrudden departs, 'Stute will look to uncover another gem but they lack the financial muscle of rivals.

"We are a local based club who aren't in a position to offer players a lot of money," said McLaughlin.

"Without the money it's harder to attract players from outside Derry and it can be tough going.

"We are all about developing young players and it's a philosophy that is working well for us."

• Northern Ireland Under-21 international Danny Amos has joined Hartlepool United on loan from Doncaster Rovers until the end of the season.

The Sheffield-born left-back, whose mother hails from Belfast, has made just two first-team appearances for Rovers this term and manager Grant McCann believes the experience will hugely help his development.

Belfast Telegraph

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