IT never rains but it pours on Derry City’s frustrated boss, Declan Devine!
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And as torrential bursts poured down from the heavens this week, the Brandywell boss certainly does not have his sorrows to seek as the local club faces what could prove an alarming injury crisis.
Delighted to have welcomed the return to action of robust centre-back, Stewart Greacen, following knee surgery, the Scot has experienced a turbulent week!
Controversially sent-off in Cork last Friday night, the 30-year-old sustained a freak injury against Sligo Rovers in the League Cup on Tuesday night which is set to see him remain on the sidelines for at least another four to six weeks!
And as Jimmy Cricket used to say . . . . C’mere, there’s more . . .
Barry Molloy remains out of action with a medial ligament problem and could be out for another fortnight while Mark Farren (knee) and Brian McGroary (lower back), are also struggling with their fitness levels.
Team captain, Kevin Deery (on right), is still weeks away from making a return and, just for good measure, Owen Morrison is struggling with a knock picked up in Sligo.
Add in the fact that Ryan McBride misses tonight’s game against Drogheda having seen “red” at the Showgrounds and Derry must plan without the services of seven first team squad members!
With back-up defender Matthew Crossan having already left the club to seek employment in America, Derry will also struggle to fill places on the substitutes’ bench for tonight’s game, therefore, it was no real surprise that Devine cut a disconsolate figure when interviewed yesterday afternoon.
Confirming the severity of the club’s injury crisis - not to mention disappointing back-to-back results away from home - the Derry boss has never found himself in a similar situation during his coaching career.
“I’ve never experienced an injury crisis like this,” he declared. “We certainly couldn’t see it coming and while I was absolutely delighted to get bodies back to fitness after the break, we’ve been knocked right back again due to bad luck,” he added.
“Indeed, Greacen will certainly wish to put the past week behind him as soon as possible.
“At the Showgrounds on Tuesday night the Sligo keeper fell on top of Stewart’s legs and which resulted in him damaging ankle ligaments during the first half. He tried to stay on but had to be withdrawn after the break and it’s now been confirmed that he will be out for between four and six weeks,” lamented Devine.
“We’ve been cursed with bad luck and we really are down to the bare bones for the Drogheda game which is disappointing. The fact that we’ve lost experienced personnel such as Stewart Greacen, Barry Molloy, Kevin Deery and Mark Farren makes it all the more difficult.
“But those are the cards we’ve been dealt and we have to roll up our sleeves and try to get on with it.”
Reflecting back to the Sligo defeat on Tuesday and given that Ryan McBride would have been expected to partner Shane McEleney in the heart of the Derry defence due to the Greacen suspension against Drogheda, why opt for the youngster to replace the Scot as a second half substitute?
Devine answered: “Even though we had fallen 1-0 in arrears during the early stages of the second half, it was at that stage when we started to play our best football and, indeed, started to control the game.
“We did everything but score during a period of about 20 minutes, but I felt Ryan could pick up something for us, particularly in setpiece situations as we believed Sligo were struggling in such situations.
“As it turned out he fouled Rafael Cretaro inside the area and conceded a penalty which saw him sent off, but that’s the risks you take when attempting to win football matches.
“We switched to ‘three at the back’ in an attempt to get something from the game but Sligo took advantage and netted late goals.
“I felt the Sligo match actually summed up our season so far. We started to play after the opened the scoring. But we were forced to take risks when attempting to win the match and I think those who were present would agree that a 4-0 scoreline certainly flattered Sligo on the night,” continued Devine.
With Drogheda currently enjoying a winning run - following their penalty shoot-out defeat of Dundalk last Monday night - a game in which manager, Mick Cooke, rested a few players, Derry will be up against it in the vital areas at the Brandywell.
“Owen Morrison is struggling to be fit for the game and while we haven’t ruled him out just yet, I honestly don’t believe he will make it, so we’ll have to change a few things in both defence and in midfield,” admitted Devine.