HOT on the heels of Friday night’s bitterly disappointing defeat by Sligo Rovers, Derry City players face a test of their character when they host Drogheda United in an EA Sports Cup semi-final tonight at Brandywell. (7.45 p.m.)
And as the “Candy Stripes” were losing to an inspired Sligo Rovers, Mick Cooke’s Drogheda were holding Premier Division leaders, St. Pat’s to an impressive share of the spoils at Inchicore.
However, City boss, Declan Devine, holds the view that his players would have no problems in rising to the challenge on Monday despite Friday night’s Premier Division setback.
“I don’t think there will be any problems about getting the players up for the next game because it’s a semi-final at the Brandywell on Monday night and it’s certainly a game we want to win,” he maintained.
“Obviously, the players are hurting following the Sligo match, but we’re now fully focused on the challenge Drogheda will pose. Physically we must prepare properly and get our recovery done. We’ve also got to be right mentally and get the Sligo defeat out of our minds.
“So I think it’s important that we take the positives out of the league game. At times I felt we played some fantastic football and we defended really well for long periods of the game.
“I was very happy that we managed to move the ball around the pitch at pace despite the blustery conditions.”
Therefore he was adamant that Friday night’s result would have no bearing on the Drogheda visit.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Sligo defeat is already out of our system. I told the players to go home, keep their heads up, enjoy their night and get back in on Saturday to do our recovery session.
“We’ve lost and we’re disappointed but the result has gone and I’m glad we have a chance to put the league result behind us so soon after the defeat. We’re just one match away from a domestic cup final and, hopefully, we can get there with a win on Monday.”
He agreed that Drogheda will have taken great confidence from their performance against St. Pat’s.
“They will travel up here fresh after taking a superb point against St Pat’s so we have to make sure we’re also fresh.
“We must be up for the challenge and if we can do that then we give ourselves a great chance.”
On the team front, Ryan McBride and Patrick McEleney appear to be major injury worries, both players limping off before the end of the Sligo game.
McBride appeared to be struggling with a back injury while McEleney had gestured to the Derry bench that had a groin problem so it’s unlikely that either will be involved tomorrow night.
That said, Derry had a strong substitutes’ bench available for the Sligo game so it will be interesting to note the Derry team selection.
“Thankfully, we have a few players back from injury which is important and we will select the team we believe would be better equipped to deal with Drogheda’s physical presence,” continued the Derry boss.
“They may not be enjoying the league success they had last year, but when you take into consideration their result at Richmond Park on Friday night, then you must sit up and take notice.
“They will not be competing for the league title this season and as the current EA Sports Cup holders, I believe they will be keen to defend that trophy, therefore, we must be at ourselves,” concluded the Derry boss.