Boss Ruaidhrí Higgins believes in-form Patrick McEleney can have major say as Derry City prepare for season finale
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The talented midfielder, who was confirmed as the new Candy Stripes skipper following Eoin Toal’s departure to Bolton Wanderers, has produced some top drawer displays over recent weeks and Higgins wants to see that form continue from his talisman.
“Patrick will be the club captain going forward,” confirmed the Derry supremo. “He’s an outstanding footballer and that’s why we brought him here.
“He knows how to win and he knows how to deal with big game situations. You could see in the second half against (Shamrock) Rovers and Finn Harps, they were key games and he grabbed them by the scruff.
“He looks really powerful at the minute and that’s why I was so desperate to bring him here. He was the one that we wanted to get to start the ball rolling.”
The 29-year-old, who has made 21 appearances this campaign and played in City last nine games in a row, has dropped into a more deep lying midfield position from where Higgins feels his quality, desire and will to win should help the squad in the business end of the season.
“He’s put a brilliant run together so, touch wood, that continues,” he added.
“We know that if we can keep him on the pitch then he’s a huge asset to the club. We had to manage him at the start of the season, as he was coming back from a bad injury, so we had to look after him. At times it was a bit more difficult than others but hopefully we’re seeing the fruits of that now.
“Players of his quality, drive and will to win, they normally come alive at this stage of the season and I think we’re seeing that with Patrick.
“He left Derry a young player with loads of quality and creativity; there might have been certain question marks against him, but he has comeback as a player who has learned how to win trophies.
"He’s played in European group stages and has achieved an awful lot during his period away from the Brandywell and now our supporters are starting to see the player he has developed into.”
Derry travel to Drogheda United tomorrow night aiming to secure their first victory over Kevin Doherty’s side this season but Higgins is expecting another tough test.
“You look at Drogheda’s form against the top two - Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, it has been superb,” he explained.
“Dundalk have lost three games all season, two of them have been against Drogheda at their ground and Drogheda have also beaten Shamrock Rovers at home. They’ve gone to Tallaght and the Brandywell and drew, so they seem to have a knack against the top sides but hopefully that won’t be the case on Friday.”