PETER HUTTON has warned his Derry City players they face a ‘rude awakening’ if they fail to lift their performances for the final league game of the season against Bohemians next Friday night.
The Derry City boss was furious with the lacklustre displays from some of his playing staff during Friday’s dismal defeat to struggling UCD at Brandywell - the final home fixture of the season.
And with FAI Cup final places and contracts up for grabs, the Derry boss insists he expects a lot more from his players after two substandard performances against Limerick and UCD at Brandywell.
Hutton had hoped to sign off the season in front of the home support with a confidence boosting win but instead he was treated to a disjointed, error-strewn display and a second successive defeat at Brandywell.
Hutton believes the FAI Cup Final has been a major distraction for his players who, he feels, are ‘saving themseleves’ for the end of season showpiece against St Patrick’s Athletic.
“The FAI Cup final has definitely been a hindrance to us, without a shadow of a doubt,” said Hutton. “Probably because we prioritised the cup fairly early in the season and that’s been reflected in the consistency and level of performances in the league campaign.
“I’ve told some of the players that they’re in for a rude awakening if they don’t start lifting their levels of intensity, not just in matches but in training.
“Some of the them seem to just want these league games out of the way,” he added. “They’ve got one eye on the cup final and are looking after themselves in terms of not picking up injuries and saving themselves and that’s nowhere near good enough.”
Injuries to Barry McNamee (groin) and Patrick McEleney (foot) compounded woes for Hutton on Friday night, however, both are expected to be fit for the FAI Cup Final.
“Barry’s injured his groin,” confirmed Hutton. “It’s the same injury he sustained prior to the Shamrock Rovers game so that’s flared up a bit and we had to take him of as a precaution.
“Hopefully it’s not too bad as we brought him off early in the game. He’ll get assessed this weekend and we’ll take it from there.
“Patrick McEleney has a sore foot and Aaron Barry has a slight tear on the back of his knee. Aaron will see a consultant on Monday with regards that.
“Ryan McBride has a slight hamstring strain. but hopefully those injuries will clear themselves and the only doubt for the cup final would be Aaron Barry because of the nature of his injury but we’ll take our advice from the consultant.”
So it was a forgettable night on Foyleside on Friday, however, Hutton wants his players to learn from the defeat and finish the league campaign on a winning note next Friday in Dalymount.
“It was a bad night at the office all round,” added Hutton. “It just wasn’t good enough. But it’s important we learn from it and move on.”