DERRY CITY must quickly put their impressive Europa League display behind them as they return to domestic duties today and manager, Peter Hutton is expecting a tough test against a ‘resurgent’ Athlone Town at Lissywoollen. (Kick-off 4 p.m.)
The league’s basement side have experienced something of a revival in recent weeks following the intervention of new manager, Keith Long.
Athlone came close to securing a draw at Brandywell in early April in an entertaining 3-2 win for the ‘Candy Stripes’ but City go into this clash high on confidence following recent performances and that dominant first leg Europa League tie over Aberystwyth on Thursday.
It’s a quick turnaround for Hutton’s troops but he’s hoping the adrenaline from that memorable night at Brandywell three days ago will be enough to carry them to victory in Athlone.
“It’s probably going to be a bit more difficult of a task now that they’ve got Keith Long in there and they’ve experienced a bit of a resurgence.
“They beat Drogheda 6-0 and they had a 2-2 draw away to Bohs. Keith seems to have come in and given them a bit of confidence. So it’s a difficult place to go to get a result.
“The signs have been encouraging in the last couple of league games but we’re not getting carried away. The confidence is high and the players are playing with a smile on their face which we were looking for.
“It’s all down to the players and their work ethic in training which is being matched on the pitch now. It’s important we keep that consistency in our performances.”
Philip Lowry could make his first start for his new club this afternoon, however, Stephen Dooley has yet to receive his international clearance and therefore won’t be involved.
With captain, Cliff Byrne suspended and Mark Timlin, who scored his first goal for the club on Thursday night, struggling with a hip flexor problem, there will be at least two changes to the team which has started consecutive games against the ‘Lilywhites’ and Aberystwyth.
“Going into Sunday’s game I’m sure there will be a few tired bodies.
“You hope that the adrenaline and the confidence they have is enough to carry them forward.”
That’s where you need the squad. It’s important the boys that are on the fringes are ready to come in.
It’s important when those players get the jersey they try and hold onto it. There will be one or two changes come Sunday given that Mark’s injured and Cliffy (Byrne) is injured.”