DERRY City may have enjoyed a good weekend having got back to winning ways, but any celebrations were shortlived with the news that injuries and suspensions are set to give Declan Devine a major headache.
Towering centre-back, Shane McEleney, limped off the pitch after just 33 minutes against Shelbourne with an ankle problem, but worse news was to follow when it became clear that his regular defensive partner, Ryan McBride, must sit out this Saturday’s game against Shamrock Rovers.
The 23-year-old Brandywell lad has picked up an additional one match suspension having been sent off in Dundalk recently.
Therefore, the definite loss of McBride plus the threat hovering over the fitness of McEleney, is not what the Derry boss had hoped for given the arrival of Shamrock Rovers this Saturday night. (5.00 p.m.)
“We’ve enjoyed a good weekend, thanks to our win over Shelbourne and results from elsehwere, but we have not been jumping for joy, there were very little celebrations,” insisted the Brandywell boss.
“Friday night’s result was vital and the fact that we started the game so well, told its own story. Our application was excellent but I also believe we got the breaks when it mattered,” he added.
“Against Dundalk the previous Monday night we were denied a stonewall penalty claim and that was a turning point. But we did get what was another clear-cut spotkick against Shelbourne, which proved to be crucial.
“I felt the players showed great character and even when Shels scored, they kept their focus to go straight back up the pitch and restore the two goals advantage,” smiled Devine.
With qualification for the Europa League still a possibility, Devine also confirmed that he would be “short of a few bodies.”
He went on: “Ryan is out and Shane is a major doubt. Michael Duffy will be with the N. Ireland squad while both Ryan Curran and Barry McNamee are also on standby for international games next weekend.
“At this stage, I honestly don’t know how we will be fixed, but we’ve got to move on, accept our situation and do everything in our power to put on a good performance against Rovers.”
In fact, a victory over Shamrock Rovers would see Derry move six points clear of the “Hoops” with two matches left and, provided Sligo defeat Drogheda in the FAI Cup final, then Derry would be considered favourites to secure a place in the Europa League.
“Obviously if we win it, it would go a long way to helping us finish in fourth spot, but I really don’t think that will be decided on Friday night.
“After all, we must travel to St. Pat’s while Rovers must also travel to Sligo in the final match of the season. So win, lose or draw, nothing will be decided on that front,” suggested Devine.
“As I said prior to the Shelbourne match, I believe if we can take close to 12 points from our final four games, then I believe we will finish in fourth spot which gives us a chance of securing Europa League football next season.
“That has to be the mission but we also realise that in order to acheive that we must be at our best against Shamrock Rovers and then St. Pat’s, so that’s a big ask.
“However, I believe we are capable of finishing in fourth and while we may be without a few bodies, we’ll certainly be doing all in our power to finish in fourth.”