Peter Hutton admits Thursday night’s UEFA Europa League second round qualifier against Shakhtyor Soligorsk represents a formidable task for his troops. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
And as the Derry City boss prepares for the meeting with the relatively unknown Belarusian opposition, he also finds himself forced into major adjustments to his tried and tested defence.
Dean Jarvis yesterday received the welcome news the injury sustained in the first half of Sunday’s 5-0 demolition of Bray Wanderers wasn’t as bad as first thought, but the defender is still ruled out of the first leg tie at Brandywell.
The Southway lad had feared he could be sidelined long term with a broken toe but, following X-rays at Altnagelvin yesterday afternoon, it’s understood he suffered soft tissue damage and he’s hopeful of being available for the return leg in Salihorsk on Thursday week.
With Jarvis unavailable for Thursday night and a lack of defensive options at the club, Hutton will likely call on the services of makeshift right back, Danny Ventre who occupied the position against Bray on Sunday.
However, the re-signing of the versatile Sean Houston (pictured above, inset) will potentially give the Derry boss another option.
Aaron Barry is likely to be deployed in his usual left-back role while skipper, Cliff Byrne and Ryan McBride return from suspension to make up the back four which will give Hutton a major boost going into a game against an experienced team who are in good form coming into the tie.
Step Into Unknown
Hutton admits Thursday’s game will be a step into the unknown but he hopes his side can keep the tie alive going into the return leg in Belarus next week.
“We’ve done a bit of research on them but it’s far from ideal getting information on a team from Belarus,” said the Derry manager.
“But we’ve watched some DVDs of them and I know they’re a decent side and technically very, very good. They have one of the league’s top goalscorers in the team in Nikolai Yanush but they’re an older and more experienced team. We expect a very difficult game on Thursday night.
“BATE Borisov and Dynamo Minsk are maybe the more familiar teams in the Belarusian league but Shakhyor are on a very good run of form at the minute.
“Like ourselves they’ve gone six games unbeaten and defensively they’re very sound and don’t give much away,” he continued.”
Given City’s own free-scoring form of late and that record breaking 9-0 aggregate victory over Aberystwyth Town in the first round, Hutton believes his side have a great chance to keep alive their European adventure.
“It’s going to be a very formidable task for us but the way the players are playing at the minute they can go and express themselves and it can be a very enjoyable experience for them.
“So we’ll see how far we can go. There’s no reason why we can’t keep a clean sheet and maybe get a goal and keep the tie alive.
“We’ll go out and give as good an account of ourselves as possible and if we keep applying that same work ethic we’ve shown in recent games then I think we’ll be okay,” he concluded.