As the Brandywell club enters the home straight with 10 games remaining, starting with Monday’s trip to Dalymount Park, Higgins has hailed the character shown by his team who have given themselves a genuine chance of qualifying for European competition.
Few would’ve predicted the Candy Stripes would be in the position they currently are and breathing down the necks of third placed Sligo Rovers going into the final series of games after a disastrous start.
Higgins knows his team face tough challenge against the Gypsies on Monday, particularly given the absence of three key players, and with Keith Long’s troops a single point behind, the significance of the game certainly isn’t lost on the Limavady man.
“It’s a big game,” he agreed. “We’ve taken 13 points from the last 15 in the league which is a really good return. You can see now that Sligo are back winning games. I believe it’s a tough ask (to qualify for Europe) but I also believe there’s a lot of football to be played. If we stick together and keep doing what we’re doing then fingers crossed we can be in and around it.
“But when you look back the last few months, we’ve probably put ourselves in a position that a lot of people might have thought wasn’t possible. We have to take great heart and hope from that and if the players continue doing what they’ve been doing then we will pick up more wins from now until the end of the season. If it’s good enough, great. If it’s not, then we’ll have given it a good go and we’ll reassess it then.”
If Derry are to qualify for Europe, they must do it the hard way with six of their remaining 10 games away from home. The Brandywell club’s away form has been impressive under Higgins however, and so he’s not getting overly concerned about the run-in.
“The way our crowd have been and the lift the players have got from our crowd, you would’ve liked a few more home games but it is the way it is. We can’t change it.
“Whether we’re home or away well prepare to win every game we play. Whether we’re good enough or not is a different story. The players believe going into any game, no matter who it is that we can pick up three points and that will be the case on Monday. We’ll be going to Bohemians to try and win the game. We won’t be going to pick up a point, well be going to try and win it.
“We’re well aware that they’re a very good team with a lot of exciting young players who have huge futures ahead of them and huge experience in and around them. To beat them we’ll have to be at our best but we will go there with the intention of picking up three points.”
Derry once again showed their never-say-die attitude in the way they threw the kitchen sink at Finn Harps to earn a late point at Brandywell Stadium last Friday night.
Twice this season they’ve scored late goals against Bohemians with Cameron McJannet scoring a second half brace to earn victory in Dublin and Marc Walsh scoring an injury time equaliser on Foyleside.
“The fact we’re getting late goals is a great credit to the players and their desire and fitness levels as well. We’re never out of games and hopefully that’s the same on Monday night.
“We’ll need to bring those levels and determination to Dalymount Park. It’s been a good ground for Derry over the years and hopefully that’s the same on Monday night.”
Higgins must plan without three key players for Monday's trip as Joe Thomson, Danny Lafferty and McJannett all miss out through suspension but the Derry boss is confident his team have enough quality to get a positive result.
"It's a blow to us because all three have had really good periods but we will have a team strong enough on the pitch, experienced enough and we'll go to Bohs determined to pick up three points."