Ciaron Harkin is a credit to himself states Derry City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins

Boss Ruaidhrí Higgins believes Derry City should be travelling to Drogheda United tomorrow evening four points better off.

The Candy Stripes missed two glorious chances to close the gap on second placed Dundalk and leaders Shamrock Rovers after drawing their last couple of matches against the top two sides.

A few weeks ago Pat Hoban’s stoppage time header cancelled out James Akintunde’s goal to earn the Lilywhites a share of the spoils at Oriel Park, while last Friday night the Hoops left the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium with a scoreless draw thanks to a ‘man of the match’ display from goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

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The former Northern Ireland international kept out Will Patching’s first half penalty and also made a top drawer stop to deny Michael Duffy after the break as the home side dominated proceedings in the second half.

Derry City's Ciaron Harkin continues to be ahead of schedule after his ACL injury. Picture by Kevin Morrison/Events Images & Video

Higgins admits that while those performances were good, he would take a below par display at Head in the Game Park tomorrow night as long as it guaranteed the three points.

“Give me a mediocre performance with a victory, I would take that all day at the minute,” he joked.

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“We could easily be sitting four points off the top now after the last few games but we aren’t and, as I have said before, you need to take your chances to win games, it’s part of football.

“You can be as dominant as you want but we need to be more ruthless and clinical. We’ve said that a few times this year but we know we’re going in the right direction and I would be worried if we weren’t creating chances.”

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The Limavady man confirmed that he has a virtually fully fit squad to select from for their encounter against Kevin Doherty’s side with long term casualty Ciaron Harkin is the only man missing from the squad.

In fact, Higgins admitted that the Creggan native was ahead of schedule after the serious ACL injury he sustained against Stephen Bradley’s Rovers side way back in February.

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“Will (Patching) has had a few bumps and bruises over the last few weeks but we’re managing him and everyone else is fine, apart from Ciaron Harkin, who remains out,” insisted Higgins.

“Ciaron’s grandad passed away this week and everyone’s thoughts are with him and his family.

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“He’s progressing brilliantly and he’s a real credit to himself. He won’t really know this but he has a huge influence around the place. He’s very highly regarded by the staff, players and everyone at the club. He’s a joy to be around, as he always comes in with a smile on his face every day.”

The Derry boss was also quick to point out that he isn’t putting any time frame in place for the midfielder’s return to action.

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“Michael Hegarty (City’s physio) will probably tell me off for saying this but he’s progressing absolutely brilliantly. Where he’s at now in terms of coming back from a cruciate injury, he’s probably slightly ahead of schedule and that’s a huge credit to himself.

“His application and desire to play for this club is unbelievable.

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“It’s too early to say when he’ll be back and I don’t want to put any pressure on him, but he’s showing the way on how to grab a set-back by the scruff of the neck and bounce back but I had no doubts he would do that because he’s such a fighter.”

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