DERRY City centre-back, Ryan McBride, is considered a major doubt for this Thursday night’s Europa League, first qualifying round, second leg clash with Aberystwyth Town.
The Brandywell native faces a race against time to be fit for the game at Park Avenue having twisted an ankle during Sunday’s 0-1 defeat of Athlone Town.
However, on the bright side City skipper, Cliff Byrne, returns to action as his two match ban only applies in domestic competition. The Dubliner sat out Sunday’s game and he will be forced to do the same against Bray at the Brandywell this Sunday afternoon.
“We haven’t given up hope yet that Ryan will be fit but, at this stage, he has to be considered a major doubt,” confirmed Brandywell boss, Peter Hutton.
“He will receive daily treatment on his ankle, but I was delighted to see Shane McEleney make a positive return in Athlone and with Cliff also coming back, we have options,” added Hutton.
Mark Timlin, who impressed on the right flank remains a doubt with a hip flexor problem while Dean Jarvis (bruised foot) is expected to be passed fit for Thursday’s game.
Boasting a 4-0 first leg advantage, the tie should be over, but Hutton refuses to take anything for granted.
“The Aberystwyth manager seems to think that the red card shown to their keeper was a significant setback for them. He also stated that while it was 11 versus 11 they were as good as us, so we’ll see what happens on Thursday night,” said Hutton.
And he was adamant that his side would not travel to Wales and “park the bus” in an attempt to hold out over the 90 minutes.
“We will attempt to win the second leg,” he insisted. “They are 4-0 down, so I would image they would be doing everything in their power to score early.
“And that will suit us as we have so many players who like to get forward at every opportunity. We will attempt to get in behind them and score and if we do manage to score over there, then the tie will be over as I really can’t see them scoring six goals against us,” added Hutton.
“We are set-up to play offensively. We will want to score and put the tie to bed but the players realise that nothing can be taken for granted in this game. In fact, I think we will have learned a lot from Sunday’s game in Athlone. We were on a high on Thursday night, played in front of a good crowd in the Brandywell, so to travel to Lissywoollen and play in front of a small attendance with no atmosphere, was difficult.
“That said, we had a few lads who were weary and our normal intensity was not there, but we thankfully got the required result and a clean sheet and I’m delighted to move on.”
Confident that he will progress to the next round against Shakhtyor Soligorsk from Belarus, Hutton will ask his players for a disciplined performance.
“Leading 4-0 we have to be confident, but they will certainly give us a game in front of their own fans, make no mistake about that.
“We must be disciplined and concentrated in everything we do. I believe they will have a good go at us and we will be prepared for that.”
Meanwhile, Hutton has released local lad, Lee Toland, the 21 year old having failed to break into his first team squad.
“Lee needs to be playing matches. He’s a great lad and with Dean Jarvis and Aaron Barry in excellent form, he’s not yet ready to break into the first team.
“He has done really well with us, trained and worked hard and I think he needs to be playing regularly now that he’s 21 and I’d like to see him getting a club, so we’ve agreed to part company and we wish him every success,” concluded Hutton.