ONE man certainly earning his wages at the Brandywell these days has been team physio, Colum O’Neill.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And the overworked local man will be doing all in his power to patch-up a number of Derry City players in order to get as strong a side as possible ready for tonight’s televised league fixture against undefeated St. Patrick’s Athletic. (Kick-off: 7.05 p.m.)
With so many struggling to make tonight’s starting line-up, the news that team captain, Kevin Deery, will have to see a specialist following a knee injury has not helped matters.
Centre-back, Stewart Greacen will not be returning to action until after the mid-season break while Mark Farren has sustained a Grade 2 tear to his hamstring and will not be involved for at least three weeks.
And, just for good measure, Derry’s versatile midfielder, Patrick McEleney, will watch the game from the stand having been sent-off during last weekend’s 1-1 result against Rovers in Tallaght, a decision which infuriated assistant boss, Paul Hegarty.
“Those who watched the highlights of the game on Monday night will agree that Patrick McEleney should not have been sent off,” he insisted.
“And I’m not having a go at the referee or anything like that but surely if the powers that be agree that a wrong decision has been made, then the decision should be rectified. It was clear that Patrick had been tackled from behind and did not dive as had been claimed in the Press after the game,” added Hegarty.
“I think something should be put in place as there’s no appeal procedure and we’re forced to lose the services of a player for what will be another important game.
“Referees are human, they make mistake all the time and that’s totally understandable but surely when such a decision is proved wrong, it should be changed and the player and his club are not sanctioned for something they didn’t do.”
Looking forward to the game, Hegarty agreed that a number of his young players would again be called into the first team.
“Brian McGroary is not ready to play just yet in terms of fitness, but we have to use him given the situation we face.
“By the same token, some of our young players can’t get a game in the reserves as we need them as cover for the first team panel.
“That said, we’ve battled our hearts out in a number of tough matches with trips to Sligo and Dublin and the young lads cannot be faulted for their efforts. They will be called upon for the St. Pat’s match and they will not let themselves or the team down,” insisted Hegarty.