Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins wants players to be wary of out-of-form Sligo Rovers
Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins wants his players to remain focused and forget all about Sligo Rovers’ recent dip in form when they travel to The Showgrounds tonight (KO 7.45pm).
The Bit O’Red have lost their last six games in a row, crashing out of both the Europa Conference League and FAI Cup as well as suffering three league defeats during a terrible run of results.
Regardless of that dip, the Derry boss reminded his players that Liam Buckley’s side remain in front of them in the Premier Division table and said the poor run of results would come to an end sooner rather than later. He did, however, point out that his team travel full of confidence having won their last four matches.
The Limavady native would love a similar result to the one he got in his first game in charge of the Candy Stripes, a 1-0 win against Buckley’s team thanks to a Will Patching penalty.
“Of course they’ll want to stop the run they are on,” confirmed Higgins. “But they are above us in the league and although their form hasn’t been brilliant, they are third in the table for a reason. I’m fully aware of their strengths.
“Our last game down there was my first as manager so I have really good memories and hopefully there are more good memories after Saturday’s game.”
A victory for City would move them to within a point of this evening’s opponents and put them right in the mix in the battle for a European place for next season.
Higgins, however, isn’t getting too carried away with tables at present and wants his players to just keep their heads down and continue to work hard, as especially are they are entering the business end of the season over the next few weeks
“I’m not looking at that, I’m just looking at the game. We know that The Showgrounds is notoriously a difficult to go but we are in good form. We go there positive and if we show the right temperament and attitude in the game then I think we can come home with a good result,” he confirmed.
“Yeah, it’s something to look forward to (the business end of the season) and it’s nice that we have put ourselves in this position but it means nothing unless you go and pick up good results. That will be the aim over the next few weeks.”
The Brandywell men have kept clean-sheets in their last three games and Higgins believes if Nathan Gartside and Co. can continue keeping the ball out of their net, then they’ll always have a chance to win matches. However he stressed the need to stay focus in every game they play.
“We have three clean-sheets in a row and that gives you a great platform,” he insisted. “We have got good attacking players here so naturally, if you keep clean-sheets then you are going to have a chance of winning games. It’s going well at the minute but we know if we drop our performances at all then we’ll get punished.
“There are a lot of good players and good teams in this league, you have to be switched on at all times or you come unstuck.”
Higgins feels winger Will Fitzgerald has been unlucky not to be in his starting 11 over recent weeks.
The 22-year-old has come off the bench in recent weeks and has made a good impact with the Derry manager admitting only their current system is keeping the ex-Waterford out of a place in the starting line-up.
“Will has made huge impact coming off the bench and he’s kind of been a victim of the system in a way,” conceded Higgins.
“He’s a winger and we are playing a 3-5-2 formation at the minute and while we are open to changing that depending on what game we are playing, in our last few games we have played 3-5-2, so he has found himself out of the team. However, I think when games up open and spaces grow on the pitch then he can exploit it.
“The natural forwards that we have in the team have all been in really good form recently. Jamie’s (McGonigle) still getting fit. He’ll get stronger week by week and after another three or four weeks of training you’ll start seeing the best of him, but they are all in good form at that end of the pitch and hopefully that continues.”
The Candy Stripes travel to the Showgrounds with striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe back in the squad after he missed their last two games while recent signing, Gerard Storey, may also be included. However winger Marc Walsh misses out again because of his long standing hamstring injury.
“Marc is still out and we have to wait and see if Gerard’s clearance is through but Junior is back after he wasn’t unable to play against Dundalk because of his loan agreement,” Higgins confirmed.