Derry City manager Peter Hutton is expecting St Patrick’s Athletic to come at his side right from kick- off at Richmond Park tonight (k.o. 7.45pm).
Hutton believes the Dubliners will be a side looking to bounce back after they lost their grip on the FAI Cup following their heavy 4-0 defeat at Cork City last Friday.
“I would imagine St Pat’s will be a wounded animal after their defeat to Cork, but we are aware that they were well in the game, particularly in the first half,” he said.
“If anything, they probably should have been in front at half-time but that’s what happens in football, it can be a cruel game and Cork punished them in quick succession in the second half.”
It’s the opposite scenario for Hutton’s side who travel to Inchicore with a spring in their step following their impressive 3-0 win over Drogheda United. However the Derry boss knows this evening’s game is going to be a tougher task.
Although Liam Buckley’s men are a massive 12 points behind leaders Dundalk, they are only two points adrift of second placed Cork City and that is something Hutton knows they will be eyeing.
“It was a great victory last week and we are delighted to get into the next round,” he added.
“It was a comprehensive win but we know the St. Pat’s game is going to be a completely different game.
“They are playing primarily for European football now that they are out of the cup and although they are in the League Cup Final, their main focus will be trying to get that European spot. That’s their big incentive, so they’ll be making sure they have as strong as squad as possible to face us.”
The Candy Stripes sit just above second from bottom Sligo Rovers on goal difference, but a win could see them jump three places into seventh place in the Airtricity League Premier Division.
“We are coming into the business end of the season and the bottom end of the table is going to have a few more twists and turns before the season concludes, so it’s important that we remain consistent and start picking up points.”
The Derry manager has virtually a fully fit squad to choose from apart from suspended duo, Conor McCormack and Philip Lowry, while Stephen Dooley will be assessed before the game.
“I think it doesn’t help that we have Conor and Philip suspended and we are going to lack that bit of bite in the middle of the park, which is a devasting blow. Stephen, because of the nature of the hamstring injury, you don’t want to be bringing him in too soon and risk losing him for a number of weeks, so we’ll wait and see.”