Deery’s Back for Setanta

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KEVIN Deery could well find himself involved in competitive action tomorrow in the Setanta Sports Cup, but it’s clear that Derry City’s new management team will not take any risks with their influential team captain.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

The 28-years-old midfielder has yet to play in any of the “Candy Stripes” pre-season games with team boss, Declan Devine, wrapping him in cotton wool in what he described was “a new approach.”

Having played in 27 of the 36 league games last season, Devine said Deery was a key member of the squad, but it was possible he could be used against Lisburn Distillery at New Grosvenor tomorrow afternoon. (3.00 p.m.)

“In past seasons Kevin sustained niggling injuries prior to the start of the league which not only caused us problems. However, last year he played in 27 games which, to my mind, is an excellent return from a player many perceive to be injury prone.

“This season, we’ve opted to keep him out of the pre-season games, deciding instead to concentrate on his fitness and working hard on the training ground,” added Devine.

“Obviously a fully fit Kevin Deery would serve us well and while Owen Morrison is also working hard on his fitness and sharpness, both could be involved in the Setanta Cup game on Saturday.

“There are no injury concerns with either player, but we really want both to be fully fit and focused for the league campaign, that’s the priority at the moment.”

Devine also confirmed that Eddie McCallion (thigh strain) would be out of action for two weeks and while Gerard Doherty was taken off as a precaution in the 3-0 victory over Finn Harps on Tuesday night, the Derry custodian would be involved.

“Ruaidhri Higgins was not involved against Finn Harps as he was carrying a knock, but I would expect him to be fit for this weekend’s game.”

A big fan of the Setanta Cup competition, Devine clearly wants to do well in this competition.

“I think it’s a unique competition and I believe the Setanta Cup is a much better tournament with Derry City involved in it. I think we are one of the few clubs which support it and while we’ve never managed to win it, we’ve always enjoyed playing in it,” he continued.

“However, we will attempt to get through the first round and if we could manage that, then we would have a few weeks to concentrate and continue our preparations for our first league game against Bohemians on Friday, March 2nd and then look at the Setanta at a later date.”

Now ready to take charge of his first competitive game, Devine refuses to get caught up in the hype surrounding the commencement of his tenure.

“It’s a huge day for Paul (Hegarty) and myself and while we are both very proud to be involved in managing Derry City, we won’t get caught up in the hype.

“We’re seeking a favourable result against Distillery and we realise that we face a very difficult fixture.”

And with former Derry winger, John “Bugsy” Cunningham in the home dugout at Ballyskeagh, Devine realises that the Distillery boss will be fully aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the current Derry side.

“I’ve worked closely with John in the past and he’s very passionate about his football. I’ve no doubt his team will be up for this fixture as it’s a big game for them as well.

“I’ve always held the view that Irish League teams are anxious to defeat Derry City given that we’ve played in both leagues, so we’ll have to be at ourselves to get a favourable result,” he concluded.

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