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'He's on the same level as Jack Byrne' - Dundalk's new signing is one to watch out for

Veteran team-mate Michael Doyle hails playmaker’s talents but insists he must meet standards of League of Ireland champions.

Patching spent 14 years at Manchester City's academy.
Patching spent 14 years at Manchester City's academy.
Image: EMPICS Sport

THERE IS NO pulling the wool over Michael Doyle’s eyes, so when the veteran midfielder says Will Patching is on the same level as Jack Byrne you can be sure Dundalk have unearthed a gem. 

Albeit one that is still rough and must get used to being roughed up.

From his early days with Celtic through a career in the lower leagues of England, which meandered from Coventry City to Leeds United, Sheffield United to Portsmouth, Doyle has seen it all in over 20 years as a professional.

The 38-year-old Dubliner is now with Notts County in the English National League and it was there that he witnessed up close the talents of the League of Ireland champions’ latest recruit.

Patching is softly spoken and reserved off the pitch, but the former Manchester City youth player comes alive on it.

“Will is a pure number 10, a natural,” Doyle told The42. “He’s so good with the ball at his feet, he’s so comfortable with it and won’t panic. He can pick a pass and does things quickly. In a team like Dundalk, who play good football, he has so much potential and he could be brilliant for them.

He’s got everything, he just needs that break now and going over to Ireland to play shows that he’s willing to take a chance. He’s on the same level as a Jack Byrne, that’s how he plays the game. He sees things quickly and sees things others don’t.

“Players like Michael Duffy and Pat Hoban will bring out the best in Will. He is a laid back character, he doesn’t get fazed by much and he was a popular lad here, he’s a good lad. He’s not a loud person or anything like that.”

With doubts surrounding the future of Jamie McGrath – who is on the radar of various clubs in England – Patching might just be vying with Patrick McEleney for a starring role through the middle at Oriel Park.

New manager Vinny Perth cited that he felt Patching had “lost his way” in the game over the last 12 months when the club announced the 21-year-old’s arrival for the 2020 campaign.

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notts-county-v-exeter-city-sky-bet-league-two-meadow-lane Notts County's Michael Doyle Source: EMPICS Sport

“Will has had a Rolls Royce upbringing in football. He has been at the very best club in Manchester City. He has been capped underage at England. We feel he may have lost his way a bit in the last year in the game.

“The final part of his development as a footballer is learning how to play men’s football and becoming a man on the football pitch.

“We believe we are signing a player with huge potential. We believe he can become a real star. The challenge is ultimately up to Will to become a top player.”

Sentiments which Doyle agrees with. “That’s the challenge for him now. He knows he will have to put in the work with Dundalk to come up to the standards they set. I’m sure he will because he knows it’s a great chance for him.

“The lads in the dressing room here were all talking before training about Will and how he’d gone to Dundalk. I said it could be a great move for him and I hope it will be.”

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