DERRY City manager, Peter Hutton has been forced into a defensive reshuffle for tonight’s EA Sports quarter-final clash with high flying Dundalk at Brandywell. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
Club skipper, Cliff Byrne will miss the visit of Stephen Kenny’s league leaders as he attends a ‘prior engagement’ in England while Ryan McBride is doubtful after straining a hamstring in the win over Drogheda.
With Dave Elebert also sidelined, Shane McEleney is therefore expected to partner Aaron Barry at the heart of the Derry defence with Roddy Collins Jr. likely to return at right back as Derry attempt to thwart a Dundalk side that has scored 16 goals in their last four league games and conceded just once.
Hutton admits he would have liked to be in a position to make a few more changes to the team which claimed a first league win in seven attempts last weekend.
“It’s a competition we’ve had a good history in and I’m sure Stephen Kenny could say the same,” said Hutton.
“The further you get in these competitions the more you want to go on and win it. We’ll be hoping to give a good account of ourselves against a team who are flying at the minute.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “We’re down bodies as well. So it’s important we don’t flog the same players week in, week out.
“There’ll probably be a few changes. Maybe not as many as we would’ve liked but there’s a few of the boys injured so we can’t make as many as we would’ve liked. Cliff Byrne is in England. Mark Timlin and Cormac Burke - who would have featured - are injured and miss out while Mark Stewart, Enda Curran and Dave Elebert are also out.”
Dundalk arrive on Foyleside in terrific form following a 7-0 drubbing of Drogheda United and an impressive 3-0 home win over Sligo Rovers. Kenny will be without captain, Stephen O’Donnell who is recovering from a serious knee injury while John Mountney (groin) is also doubtful.
The match will present Kenny with an opportunity to rest a few bodies but Hutton doesn’t believe Dundalk will field a ‘weakened team’.
“I don’t think they have a weakened team to be honest. They have quality right through their squad.
“I’m sure players who haven’t had as much game time lately like Ruairi (Higgins) and Keith Ward will probably get run outs but they will be tough opposition.”
With a semi-final at stake, Dundalk boss, Kenny claims both teams will be anxious to progress.
“We are all looking forward to the game against Derry City. They are a good side who have a good history in this competition so we will be ready for that challenge.
“It is a Cup quarter-final and there is a semi-final at stake here. We all want to get to the latter stages so we will be approaching the game in a professional manner and going to win.”