STEWART Greacen will serve his automatic one match ban against Drogheda United at the Brandywell this Friday night, with the Scot available for tonight’s short trip to the Sligo Showgrounds for an EA Sports Cup clash. (7.45 p.m.)
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
While many felt the suspension would come into play “in the next competitive match,” the F.A.I. confirmed that Greacen must serve his ban in the club’s league programme.
The defender, therefore, will now be involved against Sligo tonight with Shane McEleney also returning to the fray following his one match ban last weekend.
And with McEleney returning to action young Ryan McBride could well be given the night off having been playing with a thigh problem over recent weeks.
Definitely ruled out of tonight’s quarter-final will be Kevin Deery, Barry Molloy, Brian McGroary and Mark Farren but for Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, it’s an opportunity for others to impress.
“Given our injury situation and the overall size of the panel, we will be using the same squad which travelled to Cork last weekend,” confirmed Devine.
“But despite our difficulties, we hope to do well in this competition as the League Cup has served us well down through the years.
“Obviously, we have a very good record in the competition and having won it last year, we gained qualification to the Setanta Sports Cup which is another tournament we enjoy competing in,” he added.
Midfield general, Barry Molloy, who tweaked his medial ligament during the last league game before the break against Shelbourne, could be out for three to four weeks and his absence in the engine-room could prove significant.
“We’ve got a few problems to sort out but we always seem to find out that as underdogs, we perform much better and while the Showgrounds remains a very difficult venue for us - I can’t remember the last time we won there - I’m confident the players will stand up to what will be a difficult challenge.
“Stewart Greacen will play in Sligo as he’s been ruled out of the Drogheda game and the team travelling will be along the same lines as that which made the trip to Cork last weekend.”
Having arrived home at 5.00 a.m. on Saturday following the Cork game, Devine agreed that Sligo’s free weekend, given Monaghan United’s withdrawal from the league, was another disadvantage for the home lot.
“It certainly doesn’t make it any easier for us. The longer journey home plus the fact that we had to play out the final half hour of the game with 10 men takes its toll on the players, but we have to get on with it.
“Sligo are probably the best team in the league at the moment, but we’ve done well against them at the Showgrounds already this season with an under-strength side. We realise it will be a test but will be ready for that and we intend to show that they can take nothing for granted,” continued Devine.
“We seem to have a habit of proving people wrong when playing the more fashionable teams in the league, so we’ll be attempting to travel down there with hopes of winning the game and getting into the last four in the competition.”
“New Faces” Required
Suggesting that there would not be “wholesale changes” in the squad for the Sligo match, Devine agreed that it was important to add new faces when the Transfer Window opens this Sunday.
“Hopefully, we will have one or two new faces ready to come into the squad next weekend, but I can’t confirm anything at the moment,” answered the Derry boss.
“We are currently in discussions with a number of possible recruits but at this stage, nothing has been confirmed. We certainly need experienced bodies for the remainder of the season if we’re to finish strongly.
“However, nothing is straight-forward these days. If we can’t recruit the players we require locally, it’s very difficult to persuade others to come up here from Dublin. However, we are in talks and, hopefully, we will have one or two signed when the window opens this weekend.
“We’ve had no luck whatsoever with injuries this season and with Barry Molloy now possibly out for another three or four weeks, we must attempt to add adequate cover to the squad.
Stewart Greacen has been out for three months following knee surgery and Kevin Deery has also gone under the surgeon’s knife with another knee problem, injuries which have stifled Derry’s challenge so far this season.
“If our injuries had involved muscle problems, it would not have been so bad, but those were cards we have been dealt and we’ve just got to get on with it,” he concluded.
European Draws Made
Meanwhile, Derry City’s ban from competing in the Europa League, has seen Bohemians named by the FAI as the “Candy Stripes” replacements and at yesterday afternoon’s draw the “Gypsies” have been paired with Icelandic club, Thór Akureyri, while St Pat’s will also play Icelandic opposition in ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar.
Should Bohemians progress to the second qualifying round, they will face FK Mlada Boleslav (Czech Republic) while St. Pat’s will face Bosian outfit, NK Siroki Brijeg.
Sligo Rovers were paired with Slovakian side, FC Spartak Trnava, in the second qualifying round draw.
Shamrock Rovers, who will compete in the Champions League, have been drawn against Lithuanian champions, FK Ekranas in the second qualifying round draw.
FK Ekranas have won the Lithuanian title for each of the past four seasons and were eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Cork City back in 2005.