MANY PUNDITS have already written off Derry City’s chances of challenging for the league title this season but Peter Hutton reckons his side will relish their underdogs tag.
The Derry boss has busily assembled a youthful, yet threadbare squad for the forthcoming Airtricity Premier Division campaign which has lost the talent and experience of both Rory Patterson and Michael Duffy.
However, he has been encouraged by pre-season performances and believes his young side can buck the odds and spring a few surprises this season.
“I’ve no doubt we will surprise a few people and a few teams this season,” said the Derry boss. “Our priority is Galway on March 6th. We’re not looking beyond that in terms of winning the league. We will literally take one game at a time. We are a very young squad and probably lacking real experience in certain key areas so we’re trying to instil a real belief in the players and togetherness and we can see that in training already.
“It’s a really good group with a good work ethic and I think we’re going on the right lines. A lot of people have dismissed us already but we don’t mind that and we’ll relish in that sort of atmosphere.”
An intense preseason campaign concludes this week with games against Crusaders tomorrow (Monday) at Seaview and against Finn Harps at Brandywell on Saturday next.
Tomorrow’s match against Irish League side Crusaders is for Chris Morrow’s testimonial and Hutton is expecting a tough and useful exercise for his players.
“Pre-season has been going well. We have another two games to go now which will be good tests against two big, strong and physical sides. So they will offer us something different than what we’ve come up against so far.”
“The Galway game will come around fairly quickly and the players are itching to get going. Pre-season has been fairly intense and Crusaders and Harps will be two good games to finish off the pre-season with.
“The tests we have come up against so far have been varied,” he added. “Some more stiffer tests than others. You can only play what’s put in front of you too but what’s pleasing is the habits the players are getting into. They are a very young squad so it’s important we eradicate some of the individual mistakes and build up that good level of consistency and we’re slowly getting that.
“Performances are gradually getting better,” he smiled.