Declan Devine insists he will ‘do everything in his power’ to keep James Talbot at Bohemians next season.
The Gypsies goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of this campaign and his immediate future is unclear.
Talbot, 25, hasn’t played since suffering a season-ending shoulder injury while on Ireland duty in June.
As Ireland’s fourth-choice behind Gavin Bazunu, Caoimhin Kelleher and Mark Travers, he is highly regarded and would not be shy of offers.
But after four seasons in Phibsboro, Talbot has an affinity with Bohs and new boss Devine said yesterday: “I’ll certainly try my best to keep James Talbot.”
Devine, at the helm tonight for the first time, continued: “He's the best goalkeeper in the country and you want your best players to stay.
“When you come into a club and see a player of that magnitude and that quality…he got injured in an Ireland squad for god's sake, it was a huge loss to the football club.
“We’ll do everything in our power to keep him at this club but I'm sure he’s not going to be short of offers.
“But what a talent, what a person and he epitomises everything like the Buckos (Keith Buckley) of what this club is about. I’ll certainly try my best to keep James Talbot.”
Buckley was yesterday confirmed as Devine’s first signing with the midfielder returning - as expected - next season after a year travelling in Australia.
Buckley has agreed a three-year deal and will immediately be reinstated as captain.
And ex-Derry City manager Devine said: “You always knew coming to Dalymount to play against Bohs that you had to shut him up and win your battle against him.
“To bring him back is a sign of intent. He comes in as the captain straight away and, looking from the outside in, the club has been missing a bit of leadership this year.”
Yesterday, Devine revealed that he has already spoken to 12 players that he wants to bring to Dalymount Park next season.
And ahead of the club's move to full-time professional status next year, he vowed to leave no stone unturned in his efforts to have the Gypsies fighting for silverware.
But Devine told fans not to expect a ‘tactical masterclass’ in the remaining three games which will be used to assess the squad, with nine players under contract for next year.
“There are certainly players there who will be involved in my team next year, but there are also players who are on the borderline at the minute,” said Devine yesterday.
“And there are players who will be leaving, it is as simple as that. There’s no point in tip-toeing around it.”
Liam Burt and Ali Coote were influential players under Long but the Scottish duo were axed by caretaker boss Derek Pender for last week’s defeat to St Pat’s.
Burt is out of contract and expected to leave amid interest from the UK and league rivals and arch enemies Shamrock Rovers, but Coote is under contract.
Quizzed on the pair, Devine said: “Liam played 70 minutes for the U19s on Sunday. He has a lot of issues with his groin, so he'll probably not be involved tonight.
“Ali will certainly be involved in some capacity. I want to have a look at everybody.
“I've three games to give people opportunities to see what their application, attitude and desire is like.
“I ain't coming down here to fall out with anybody over three weeks. I'm just coming down to be as honest and truthful and straightforward as I can.”
But Devine is actively looking outside the club for reinforcements and said: “We've already pinpointed players we want to bring to the club.
“We've spoken to about 12 players already this week. Over the coming weeks we'll be able to add to the squad and bring in people that really want to play for Bohemians.”
And Devine - an FAI Cup winner as Derry boss - insists he can marry a squad rebuild and meet trophy-starved fan' expectations.
“I don't want to be coming down here and finishing sixth," he said.
"I’ve three kids and a beautiful wife. I'm not coming down here to see them maybe once a week, or not even once a week, to sit in fourth, fifth or sixth spot.
"We want to come here and put a team together.
“Derry have come out of the blue. Yes, there's been hige investment but it can be done. The teams currently above us, we've got to strive to be better than that.”
Devine has yet to settle on his backroom team but confirmed he wants to keep the majority of the existing staff that includes Pender and Trevor Croly.
Croly’s day job away from football may be an issue with Bohs going full-time and training in the morning next season.
But Devine said: “Everyone that is here I want them to stay in a capacity which will help improve the club.”
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