DERRY City’s problematic left-back berth continues to haunt manager, Declan Devine, as he prepares for Sunday afternoon’s FAI Cup quarter-final in Sligo.
Dean Jarvis remains in difficulty with a knee problem and is “highly unlikely” to be involved at the Showgrounds while another recent signing, Eoghan Osborne, is only rated to have a 50-50 chance of making it, according to Devine.
“I was hopeful that the week off wouldsee the return of a few bodies, but while Patrick McEleney is not expected to make it, the presence of Dean Jarvis is also highly unlikely,” confirmed Devine.
“But thankfully the three lads away on international duty are fit and available for selection, so that’s a positive.”
He agreed that if Osborne didn’t overcome a groin injury, then Barry McNamee would be asked to deputise at left-back again.
“That’s not what I want, it’s not what the player wants, but it’s very much a case of needs must,” continued Devine.
“I would much rather play Barry further up the pitch, but he’s only the player who has any experience at left-back.
“And, just for the record, Barry has always played at left-back throughout his career, it was me who switched him into midfield when he broke into the first team, so playing at left-back is not new to him,” insisted Devine.
Focusing on the game at hand, he held no fears when preparing his team for another visit to the Showgrounds.
“The vast majority of our matches against Sligo have been very, very close affairs, but I think the players are still hurting at our last defeat when we squandered so many clear-cut chances against them,” noted the Creggan man.
“We were very unfortunate to lose that game and, indeed, in our last FAI Cup clash at the Showgrounds a few years ago we were also very unfortunate to lose out.
“Remember Rafa Cretaro’s quickly taken free-kick, as we had been organising our defensive well and referee, Anthony Buttimer, amazingly allowed the goal to stand?
“Those are the situations we have to deal with and this Sunday, in my view, it’s the team which defends best that will progress to the semi-finals.
“But don’t get me wrong, I think Sunday’s game will be free-flowing with both teams set-up to try and win the match. There will be no problems with the pitch and I believe the game will prove to be exciting and closely contested.
“But it’s so important that we remain in it at all times and I don’t have to explain the importance of taking advantage of goalscoring opportunities,” he concluded.