STEWART Greacen will make a return to action tonight at the Brandywell, the Scot making his first competitive appearance since March 4th, as Derry attempt to return to winning ways following Monday night’s disaster in Sligo. (7.45 p.m.)
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And while Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, will have a concern at the Scot’s lack of match practise, he was quick to point to the 31-year-old’s wealth of experience.
That said, Devine sympathised with regular centre-back, Shane McEleney who, he felt, was again hard done-by following his second dismissal of the season, the player’s automatic ban paving the way for Greacen’s return to active service.
“I think everyone who saw the coverage of Shane’s sending-off at Dundalk would agree that the player was very, very unfortunate.
“And I’ve been reliably informed that Shane was unlucky yet again in Sligo on Monday night. I’ve requested a DVD of the game but I haven’t received it yet. However, others that I trust insist that the player got a touch on the ball and really should not have been shown a red card,” lamented Devine.
“The same situation applies to Barry McNamee. He received a yellow card for an alleged dive against St. Pat’s, yet the TV coverage suggested otherwise. And in the Sligo match the same player was clearly brought down by the keeper, yet Barry was shown another yellow card. It was crazy,” he added.
However, Devine opted to put the Sligo defeat to the back of his mind and focus on the UCD fixture.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all season, concentrating on the next match which is UCD at the Brandywell. Win, lose or draw in Sligo, the focus was always going to be on UCD and there’s to be no more talk about the Sligo game. We have improved our home record and we want to get back to not conceding goals - that’s the priority - we will be facing a UCD side which will be a totally different animal from that which lost 6-0 against us at the UCD Bowl back in March,” maintained Devine.
“UCD will arrive on the back of two excellent results with victories over Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians last Tuesday night, so to take them for granted could prove disastrous.
“They now have continuity in their ranks whereas in March, Martin Russell had been using quite a few new players and they had not developed an understanding at that stage of the season.”
UCD’s record at the Brandywell last season was impressive, the Students having taken four points from a possible six thanks to a draw and a victory.
“We can’t take any team for granted in this league and if we do, we can expect to be punished. UCD have improved dramatically as their results have suggested, so we will have to be at ourselves, make no mistake about that,” insisted Devine.
While Shane McEleney misses out, Derry’s only other doubt centres on the fitness of Ruaidhri Higgins who sustained a hip flexor strain against Limerick last week.
“The Sligo game arrived too soon for Ruaidhri but he’ll have a pre-match test to see if he’s fit enough to take his place.”
And Devine was also delighted to report that he expected to return to full strength over the next week with Kevin Deery, Paddy Kavanagh and Thomas Crawley all well on the way back to full fitness.
“It’s possible that we will have a full strength panel back in training over the next week or two with players come back to fitness which is great,” he concluded.