Stephen McLaughlin can be Derry City’s secret weapon in the run-in to the Airtricity League Premier Division title race.
Manager Stephen Kenny was full of praise for the young winger for his performance in Friday evening’s 2-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.
McLaughlin was charged with the unenviable task of filling in for James McClean on the left wing after his move to Sunderland.
“He stepped up really well against Pats,” said Kenny.
“He sent over a lot of crosses that caused them problems and we were unlucky that someone didn’t get a touch on one of them.
“The angle that he runs at, he’s drilling in low crosses across the six yard box which are very difficult to defend.
“When our forwards become more aware of what he is doing we will certainly start to benefit more from him.”
Friday’s win leaves Derry joint top of the table, although Shamrock Rovers, who retain a game in hand over them, put six past UCD on Friday to greatly improve their goal difference.
Kenny believes that Derry’s home form, where they have only lost once this season, will be the crucial factor in their bid for the title.
“We have conceded just three goals in 14 homes games, and one of those was a penalty that shouldn’t have been given,” he said.
“That’s an in credible record considering that we play in a very attacking way where the full backs are raiders and are encouraged to get forward as much as possible.
“I couldn’t have envisaged that we would have conceded so few goals at home and that has been crucial.”
Eamon Zayed, who got the first of Derry’s goals on Friday, says the Brandywell support has been another big element for the players.
“No teams like to come here and we have such a great record here,” the striker said.
“But every game now is going to be a cup final.
“We need to take every game individually and approach it as if it was a cup final.
“We are confident that we are going to win it. With ten games to go we are obviously in a great position.
“Ourselves, Sligo and Shamrock Rovers, any one of them could win it.
“I think it will go down to the games between ourselves, Sligo and Rovers and how those games go.”
Kenny revealed that he was considering taking Zayed off before the interval when he picked up a knock towards the end of the fist half.
“He hurt his foot and for a while we thought we were going to have to bring him off,” he said.
“That’s the one big concern we have right now that if we lost any more players, we have a small squad and that could hinder us.
“But the standard we are playing is very high and we have come a long way from the bottom of the First Division.”