Celtic running rule over three trialists as former player reveals he sent talented trio to Lennoxtown pre-lockdown

Celtic are expected to take another look at three trialists who spent time with the club prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Derry City players were on trial with Celtic in February - and are likely to go back for a further spell
Three Derry City players were on trial with Celtic in February - and are likely to go back for a further spell

Former Hoops winger Paddy McCourt, now technical director at Derry City, told Mark Wilson’s Celtic Huddle podcast about his role at the Brandywell, which includes overseeing transfers in and out of the club, and revealed that three Candy Stripes players had gone over to Lennoxtown earlier this year.

McCourt said: "When I retired a couple of years ago I was going into Derry City as the Academy Director, looking after the Academy, but then the new manager Declan Devine came in and at the time the club was going through a restructure of sorts in terms of the first-team playing staff.

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"He was getting rid of a lot of players and needed to bring in a lot in a short space of time and asked me to give him a hand, so we worked together for a few months; got a lot of players in and got a lot out, and I was asked if I would consider doing it on a more regular basis.

"The role now consists of supporting the manager, looking after transfers in and out of the club, and contract renewals and renegotiations.

"It's a role in which I'm learning all the time and I'm picking up a lot of experience and as much as this year's been difficult for everyone I've enjoyed it and I've continued to pick up new things along the way."

McCourt is heavily involved in the club’s transfer business and while Devine has the final say on which players are signed or released, the former Celtic winger is tasked with identifying targets.

McCourt continued: “The manager picks every single player that comes to the club. If he's looking for a right-back, I try and draw up a list of five or six options that we can afford.

"Then he does his own digging into them and we try and get character references from people we know but the manager makes the final decision.”

McCourt joined the Bhoys from Derry City in 2008 and a handful of players have made the same route across the Irish Channel such as Michael Duffy and Niall McGinn, with Daniel Lafferty going in the opposite direction in 2010.

The Hoops are clearly maintaining a link with the League of Ireland side, with McCourt speaking highly of three Derry City players given a chance to train with the Scottish Premiership side last season.

He added: “There's plenty of talent coming through the academy at the minute.

"We actually had three over at Celtic in February before lockdown kicked in, in March. They did really well and they're probably going to go back once things improv.

"We're scouring everywhere around the area to find the best talent. Hopefully over the next few years, if some are good enough to go to England then great, but if not we'd hope a few of them would certainly be goo enough to play in our first team."

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