Derry City manager Peter Hutton is facing a Brandywell ‘balancing act’ as he attempts to secure the futures of a host of first team regulars.
A number of Hutton’s first team squad, including the likes of Patrick McEleney and captain Ryan McBride, will be out of contract at the end of the season and the Derry boss is keen to retain the nucleus of his promising young squad.
However, the ‘Candy Stripes’ 8th placed position in the table - only three points above second from bottom Sligo - and a restrictive budget means the City boss has been unable to move things along as quickly as he would have liked.
“It is a bit of caught between two places as regards contracts,” explained Hutton, “We are making plans already and want to get things sorted as quickly as we can with the players but we don’t want to be presumptuous either. We have talked to a few but we still need to get some wins to climb the table and then we can move things forward.”
The Brandywell boss revealed his delight at Friday’s emphatic FAI Cup victory over Drogheda which set up a mouth-watering home quarter-final clash with Cork City and maintained Derry’s improving recent record.
“This is still a young squad but coming through the trials and tribulations of this frustrating season will stand to them and, I believe, make them better players. We have experience through people such as Gerard Doherty and even though the likes of Ryan McBride, Philip Lowry and Patrick McEleney are relatively young, they have a lot of experience as well.
“I was delighted with the result and performance against Drogheda. In the cup the most important thing is getting into the next round but to achieve it as comfortably as we did is great credit to the players.
“That’s the standard we have to maintain now. A cup run can help confidence and maybe we have been lacking that at times this season but the players have shown, in the last few weeks especially, that they can compete with any team.
“The quarter-final draw certainly could have been easier but it’s at home which is a positive and it’s a tie we are capable of winning. We want to go as far in the cup as we can. It helps with the momentum we have been building over the last few games.”