BRANDYWELL boss, Declan Devine, is warmly welcoming the mid-season break, despite the fact that Derry City is currently enjoying a four match winning run.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And after the Shelbourne game at the Lone Moor Road venue this Friday night, the “Candy Stripes” will enjoy a seven days break, before returning to action at Turner’s Cross on Friday, June 22nd.
As has been the case during the opening series of matches, the Derry boss will again be forced to tinker with his defence as Ryan McBride, who has comfortably stepped up to the plate, faces a one match ban having been shown four yellow cards and, therefore, misses out against Alan Mathew’s men.
“We knew during the Harps’ match that Ryan would be suspended against Shelbourne, so we brought Eddie McCallion back into action and withdrew Shane McEleney as a precaution as he is our only fit recognised centre-back,” declared Devine.
“Patrick McEleney (thigh strain), Rory Patterson (ankle) and Mark Farren (hamstring) have been forced to play through the pain barrier and it’s for that reason that I’m really looking forward to giving our playing staff a break,” he added.
“Quite a few of the players have opted to book holidays abroad, but it will be back to training after seven days and I’m looking forward to have bodies back for the next series of games.”
Stewart Greacen is expected to return after the break as his rehab on a cartilage operation has gone according to plan but it will be a few weeks yet before team captain, Kevin Deery, will be available after his knee operation.
“I think the key factor is to have the players back totally refreshed and ready to challenge for the major honours,” continued Devine.
“We were disappointed with the return of just 15 points from our first series of matches, but to be fair, the lads have done really well. We’ve been flogged the same players out every week, some of whom have been carrying injuries and they do need rest.
“They will welcome the break despite enjoying a winning run but, first and foremost, we must prepare for the visit of Shelbourne as that will prove to be a very tough match for us,” he continued.
Devine was present in Tolka Park last night watching Friday’s visitors play Bray Wanderers in an FAI Cup replay.
“Shelbourne defeated us 1-0 in Dublin which was a very disappointing result for us, so we have a chance to avenge that result at the Brandywell this weekend.
“That said, we’ll get nothing easy against Shels as they have emerged one of the surprise packages this season so we’ll certainly have to be at ourselves if we are to keep our winning run going.
“Obviously the loss of Ryan McBride will not help us, but Eddie (McCallion) will step back in and we’ve no problems on that front.
“I’m proud of the players’ response after we lost out in the Setanta Cup Final against Crusaders, but I also believe that the break will prove beneficial and, hopefully, we can come back fresher and stronger as we will face more challenges as the season progresses and we certainly want to do ourselves justice,” concluded Devine.