DECLAN Devine has branded Derry City’s “steady” Eddie McCallion an undoubted Brandywell legend.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And given the 33-year-old’s recent performances against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds before the Setanta Sports Cup semi-final first leg against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght, Devine hailed the 33-year-old a hero describing McCallion as an oustanding player.
Indeed, as Derry continue to struggle with injuries to key players, Devine will continue look to McCallion to shore up his newlook defence as he sets sail for another trip to Tallaght Stadium tonight. (Kick-off: 8.00 p.m.)
When it was suggested that another trip to Tallaght was not ideal given the injury crisis, Devine answered in the positive, describing the fixture as the “perfect game” for his battle-weary troops.
“If a player can’t lift himself for a game against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium, then I believe he really shouldn’t be involved in the game at all,” claimed the Derry boss.
“Yes, we lost 2-0 in the Setanta Sports Cup at home last Monday night, but we got through to the final on a 3-2 scoreline, a result we would definitely have taken taken before the kick-off.
“There’s no doubt that Rovers are not happy and given that Stephen (Kenny) probably fielded his strongest side against us on Monday, we can expect more of the same on Friday night,” continued Devine.
“It’s the game we want and while we will be down in numbers yet again, I’ve no problem calling in the likes of Eddie McCallion, who has been outstanding for us in our last visit to Rovers.”
The full-back, who had made a staggering 526 competitive performances for his home town club, may not have the legs of old, but few would deny him the glory of performing so well in Sligo and in Dublin.
“Eddie has been in oustanding form for us since we brought him back in to cover for our injured defenders. He’s been forced to operate at centre-half, a position he has not played in for six or seven years yet he really stood out in Sligo and in Tallaght.
“Ryan McBride may have won a few ‘man of the match’ awards in recent games but I think Ryan would be the first to admit that Eddie’s involvement in those game has been significant,” claimed Devine.
“Not for the first time in no fewer than 14 seasons, Eddie McCallion has stepped up to the plate to play an integral role in our hour of need and, make no mistake about it, he could find himself heavily involved in Tallaght on Friday night.”
McCallion will be involved in Dublin this evening should Shane McEleney fail a fitness test on problematic ankle ligaments which have kept the player out of action for the last few weeks.
“Eddie may well be in the top group in terms of fitness levels but at 33 he needs his rest as playing two tough matches in a week can be difficult.
“That said, Eddie has lived his life well and, indeed, made sacrifices in order to extend his senior career as long as possible and that has stood to him.
“And not only is he considered an important player for us, he is also one of our high respected Academy coaches who takes charge of our youngsters on Saturday afternoons in the Showgrounds,” declared Devine.
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