STEWART Greacen’s return to active service this Friday night against Bohemians is expected to give everyone associated with the Brandywell side a major lift, that’s according to Derry City boss, Declan Devine.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
And it was interesting to note that when both Greacen and Rory Patterson re-joined the group for full sessions last weekend, Devine felt the spirit of the Derry City squad appeared to be given a significant boost.
“Stewart has been involved in quite a few sessions and he will play in a few practise matches over the next few days,” confirmed Devine. “He’s anxious to get back and I would expect him to be available for the visit of Bohemians on Friday night,” he added.
Rory Patterson is also back in full training, but given that he is recovering from a hamstring problem, a decision on whether he will return this weekend will be left with the club’s medical team.
“Rory will be wrapped in cotton wool this week because sometimes when a player is returning after a hamstring problem, the injury can return within a short period of time so he may need another week before he’s ready for action,” claimed the Brandywel boss.
“We’ll see how things develop over the new few days but I must admit that we are concerned about the fitness of Patrick McEleney who is still struggling having been stretchered off during our last match against Shamrock Rovers.
“He’s had a scan and while everything came back clear, he is struggling and that’s a big worry for us at the moment. There was no significant damage to his knee, but he does have internal bruising which is causing him pain when he attempts to run.
“So that this stage, he has to be considered a major doubt for this weekend. That said, Patrick has a high pain threshold and he’s played in the past carried minor knocks, but he is a worry at the moment as he’s done very little over the past fortnight.”
Devine, however, refused to rule the player out at this stage, suggesting that he would be given every opportunity to prove his fitness before the game.
“He’s been working well in gym on a daily basis and continues to have treatment so we’ll leave it until the very last minute before making any decision on Patrick’s involvement against Bohemians,” continued Devine.
Derry skipper, Kevin Deery, is also making good progress and the central midfield player is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel having been out of action for quite some time.
“I’m hoping that Kevin will return to full training over the next fortnight to three weeks. He’s recovering well and making good progress but we do not intend to rush him back given what he’s been through this season.”
One thing is for sure, Devine and, indeed, assistant boss, Paul Hegarty, will enjoy the possibility of facing a selection dilemma for this weekend’s return to Airtricity League action.
“Hopefully that will be the case and if it is, it will be the first time in three months that we will have a selection headache in the first team, but it’s a headache Higgsy and I will certainly welcome,” said Devine.
Having travelled to Hunky Dorys Park to watch Bohemians lose to Drogheda last Friday night, Devine felt Aaron Callaghan’s side were unlucky not to take at least a point from the game.
“I have to admit that I was impressed by Bohemians in what proved a bit of a scrappy match. I felt they were very unfortunate not to take something from the game as they had two or three superb chances cleared off the Drogheda goal-line.
“They increased the pressure in the second half and always looked very threatening in setpiece situations, so we’ll have to be on our guard on that front this weekend.
“Bohemians are a decent side, make no mistake about that, they are big and strong and if we are to get back to winning ways we must prepare professionally and take absolutely nothing for granted.”
back on Thursday
Shane McEleney and Davy McDaid left for Budapest on Sunday prior to representing the N. Ireland Under-21 squad in a friendly against Hungary and both are expected to play one half of the game tomorrow night for Steve Robinson’s side.
“I’ve been told they will both play at least 45 minutes each and that’s fine by us. I think it will be a good experience for both lads and after a few days training with the international team and a bit of match practise, I’m hopeful that they will return anxious to get involved in our game at the Brandywell on Friday night,” concluded Devine.