NEW signing, Stephen McLaughlin, has entered the Derry City treatment room and is currently considered doubtful for this Friday night’s opening Premier Division game against Sligo Rovers at the Brandywell.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
It’s understood the Clonmany lad, who was expected to operate on the left flank due to the absence of James McClean, tweaked his hamstring during a recent training session and was not included for last Friday night’s 5-0 demolition of Salthill Devon.
“We’ll have to wait and see how he responds to treatment but, at this stage, Stephen will be considered doubtful,” admitted Kenny, who attended yesterday’s official launch of the 2011 Airtricity League in Dublin.
Accompanying the manager to that function was Derry captain, Kevin Deery who, like McClean, is not expected to figure for the “Candy Stripes” until the third match of the new season at the earliest.
“Kevin is back running, which is good and making an improvement while James is also working hard on his fitness. Hopefully both will be back sooner rather that later,” added the Derry boss.
Despite the injury concerns, Kenny remained upbeat as the new season approaches and he was confident his young side would soon adapt to the step-up in standard this summer.
“Everyone is really looking forward to Friday night. There’s no doubt it will prove a big test for us as Sligo are considered one of the favourites, along with Shamrock Rovers, to win the Premier Division title this year.
“They have a talented group of players and, no doubt, they will bring a large support with them for their opening game after having won both the League Cup and the FAI Cup last year.
“Hopefully our own support will turn out in good numbers and I would expect a great atmosphere at the Brandywell this weekend,” declared the Dubliner.
Meanwhile, at yesterday’s launch of the 2011 season, it was announced that the recession continues to hit the local game with prizemoney this year slashed by a significant 66 per cent with the Premier Division champions receiving E100,000, that’s E150,000 short of last season’s total.
However, the FAI noted that a total of 11 clubs made a profit following the conclusion of the 2010 campaign - including Derry City - while six clubs lost in excess of E20,000 throughout the campaign.
Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers both recorded six figure profits, understood to be in the region of E100,000 having won the league and cup competitions while former champions, Bohemians, lost E900,000 last season, the Dalymount Park club now having made swingeing cuts to their budget and will field a newlook side in the forthcoming campaign.
Following the conclusion of the new season, the Premier Division will be increased to 12 teams. The basement side will be involved in a play-off with the team which finishes third in the First Division and that will be a one-off match played at the home of the Premier Division team. Of course, the top two First Division sides will secure automatic promotion to the top flight - so it’s not a bad year to be returning to the top flight!
RTE’s ‘live’ television coverage of the new league will commence immediately with cameras at Friday night’s match involving Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk and ‘live’ coverage will continue throughout the campaign.
This weekend’s opening fixture list will see the following fixtures staged - Friday, March 4th - Bray Wanderers v. Bohemians; Derry City v. Sligo Rovers; Drogheda United v. UCD; Galway United v. St. Pat’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers v. Dundalk (live on RTE 2 at 7.35 p.m.)
In the Airtricity First Division, the following matches are down for decision - Cork City v. Wexford Youths; Waterford United v. Athlone Town and Finn Harps v. Limerick FC.
Saturday night’s fixtures also relate to the First Division with two fixtures - Salthill Devon v. Mervue United and Longford Town v. Shelbourne.