DERRY City can expect a defensive reshuffle as the “Candy Stripes” set sail for yet another test of their character at Richmond Park this evening. (7.45 p.m.)
And with full-backs, Shaun Kelly and Dean Jarvis, both struggling to be fit for the trip to St. Patrick’s Athletic, City skipper, Ryan McBride, is also considered a doubtful starter with the back problem which saw him withdraw from Saturday night’s share of the spoils in Sligo.
Add in the absence of the injured Stephen Dooley and the loss of Mark Timlin due to an automatic one match ban following his double yellow cautions in Sligo and Peter Hutton has a few problems.
However, opting to take the positives from the Sligo result, Hutton is delighted that his trio of debutantes Anthony Elding, Cillian Morrison and Seanan Clucas all came through the Sligo game unscathed.
“We face yet another tough game at Inchicore against a very good St. Pat’s side but, as was the case for the Sligo match, we are not fearful and we’ll be doing everything in our power to get a favourable result from another tough venue,” insisted Hutton.
And noting St. Pat’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Dundalk on Friday night, Hutton agreed that the “Saints” would be very keen to put that defeat behind him having had two players sent off - Killian Brennan and Conor McCormack.
“I think their early results have been disappointing but St. Pat’s are quite a few people’s favourites to win the title,” added the Derry boss.
“Liam Buckley had a quality squad made up of top players and having added the likes of Ciaran Kilduff and Jason McGuinness to his panel, they will provide us with a major test.”
Over the past 24 hours the Derry medical team have been busy with physio, Michael Hegarty, nursing what Hutton described as his “walking wounded players.”
He went on: “We will approach the game in the right manner and spend Tuesday morning assessing our injured players, but we can’t afford to take any risks by using players carrying knocks.
“Shaun Kelly (ankle) and Dean Jarvis (toe) are both considered extremely doubtful at this stage and with Ryan McBride also struggling I do expect changes in defence.
“The three and a half hours coach journey to Dublin will certainly not help Ryan’s back problem and while he has made progress, we’re not going to risk him being sidelined for four or five weeks.
“We will make a decision on his fitness before leaving for Dublin and the same will apply to the full-backs.
“However, I’ve every faith in the players who could be brought in andone player’s misfortune becomes another’s window of opportunity to stake a claim for a first teamjersey,” smiled Hutton.
“While our young players will certainly relish the challenge, we’ve yet to perform to our full capabilities and while we will be without a few, I’m confident that we will cope.
“I’m hopeful that our new players can step up to the mark and give the St. Pat’s defence something to think about.
“Anthony Elding, Cillian Morrison and Seanan Clucas are all keen to make an impact, so let’s hope things will go their way at Inchicore on Tuesday night.
“I would expect them to ask questions of the St. Pat’s centre-backs if we’re to get a favourable result.”