KENNY SHIELS wants his side to ramp up the heat on Shamrock Rovers and move FIVE points clear of the ‘Hoops’ with victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park tonight. (K.o. 8p.m.)
Derry City and Rovers are battling for the third European qualification spot but with Stephen Bradley’s troops not in action this weekend, it’s a chance to gain valuable ground.
Following last weekend’s biggest win of the season, a 4-0 home win over Longford Town, Shiels is hoping his side can start building momentum.
They face a series of tricky fixtures, however, with a trip to Dalymount tonight followed by a visit to Sligo Rovers who boast an eight game unbeaten run at the Showgrounds.
That match, now rescheduled for Friday, July 29th, is followed quickly by the EA Sports Cup semi-final against Limerick on the Monday.
So it’s important to get that mini-run of games off to a winning start in Dublin tonight.
And while Shiels expects a tough match against a quality Bohs outfit who managed three victories from three league meetings against the ‘Candy Stripes’ last season, the Derry boss is confident of an away win.
“I think it will be a good game,” said Shiels.
“They’ve got good ammunition. They have great choices with Jake Kelly and Ben Mohamed on the sides and Mark Quigley and Ismahil Akinade. So they have lots of quality players.
“I just think we need to believe in ourselves a bit more and make sure we go and try and win the game.
“They were unfortunate against Rovers in their last game when they had a player sent off. It’s happened to us in successive games so I know how they feel,” he added.
“It’s a very big game for us but we go into it with some heart after last week’s result.
“It would be great to go down there and win. The boys feel as if they can and so do I. So let’s bring it on!”
Shamrock Rovers will have two games in hand over City but those matches are against fifth placed Galway United and champions, Dundalk. Therefore Shiels is choosing to focus on the positives.
“The good thing is that Rovers’ game in hand is against Galway so something will give there. And we have to play them as well which will be tough.”
Derry will be without skipper, Ryan McBride who serves the second match of his two game ban.
“The versatile Conor McDermott is expected to retain his place at right back with Niclas Vemmelund at centre back.
And Shiels was full of praise for the way his players have been able to adapt to different positions this season with minimal fuss.
“We’ve adapted our team very well. Sometimes Conor McDermott has played left-back, then right-back and right midfield.
“So a boy at 18 years-old playing four different positions is testament to him.
“And ‘Nico’ has played right back and centre back. Patrick McClean has played at centre back and left back.
“ So there’s a flexibility with the players that we have.”
Gareth McGlynn misses out through injury while Harry Monaghan and Lukas Schubert are rated doubtful.
Meanwhile, the Gypsies are without the suspended Keith Buckley while there are doubts over the fitness of Ben Mohamed (groin), Eoin Wearen (hamstring), Dylan Hayes (ankle) and Derek Pender (quad).