Derry City have confirmed the loan signing of Manchester City midfielder Joe Hodge, a highly regarded midfielder who has represented Ireland at both the Under-17 and Under-19 European championships a couple of years back.
Hodge, who had previously represented England, broke his leg in the autumn of 2019 but recovered well and was named as City’s ‘Scholar of the Year’ last year. Despite only being 18, he has been on the margins of the club’s Under-23 side in recent months and has got on from the bench in a couple of games.
Rather than bring him on in that environment, City have decided that he would benefit from being tested in senior competitive football and though it remains to see how he copes with the move so early in his career, the signing certainly looks like something of a coup for the Brandywell side. His loan spell will last six months.
Stephen Kenny has previously spoken about the teenager's potential, pointing to his technical ability, use of space and tremendous understanding of the game for such a young player.
Current club manager Declan Devine said on Wednesday that he was "absolutely delighted to be bringing Joe to Derry City. It's a high-profile loan signing for us given that Man City are one of the biggest clubs in the world and Joe is one of their top young talents.
“Of course Joe is just 18 years old and this will be his first venture into senior football. We want to help him evolve and to enjoy this opportunity. I’m hoping that his spell with Derry City will play some small part in the youngster fulfilling his potential.”
The move comes barely a week after St Patrick’s Athletic announced the signing of 19-year-old Czech underage international goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros from Liverpool.
Waterford, meanwhile, have signed former UCD defender Josh Collins.