Derry City turn down the chance to re-sign Paddy McCourt

The Northern Ireland international is currently without a club

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Paddy McCourt played for Derry City in a charity match last year. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty

It looked like a relationship that would be beneficial to both sides, alas it was not meant to be.

Derry City have turned down the chance to re-sign former player Paddy McCourt. The Northern Ireland international is a free agent after leaving Luton Town at the end of last season.

The 32-year-old was due to be part of Northern Ireland's Euro 2016 squad, but pulled out of contention to care for his sick wife, who was suffering from a brain tumour. His wife's illness also led to the midfielder asking Luton to release him from his contract to return home to Derry.

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels has turned down the chance to sign McCourt, because the youngsters he has in the squad are currently playing so well. The Candystripes lie in third place in the Premier Division.

"Paddy is one of the best players I have ever seen and, if it had been the start of the season, I would have been desperate to get him in because we would have needed him", Shiels told the Derry News. "But the progress that the young players have made has left me in the mind that I think it would be unfair on them."

"I need to be able to look the likes of Josh Daniels, Ronan Curtis, Conor McDermott, Rory Holden, Aaron McEneff and Nathan Boyle in the face and not be a hypocrite."

In his spell at Derry, McCourt won the FAI Cup in 2006, and was also on three League Cup-winning sides. The League of Ireland title remained elusive despite two second-place finishes.

McCourt's next destination is not yet known, but he is expected to base himself in Derry, meaning an Irish League club is his most likely destination.