DERRY CITY: Kenny Shiels growing frustrated with heavily disrupted pre-season campaign

Derry City manager Kenny Shiels is cursing his luck as three pre-season friendlies have been cancelled in the space of a week.
Derry City manager Kenny Shiels is cursing his luck as three pre-season friendlies have been cancelled in the space of a week.

KENNY SHIELS revealed his growing frustrations at Derry City’s disrupted pre-season campaign after he was forced to cut short the club’s recent trip to Dublin due to mounting injury concerns.

The ‘Candy Stripes’ pre-season preparations have been plunged into chaos due to the wintry weather conditions and a growing injury list which ultimately put paid to Wednesday’s scheduled friendly against UCD.

Shiels’ troops were greeted with unplayable pitches at both Larne and Ballyclare with the latter, fixed for Moyola Park, called off last Friday at the eleventh hour.

The City boss admitted his side was ‘playing catch-up’ after the cancellation of those matches but he was then forced to pull the plug on the club’s midweek friendly fixture against First Division outfit UCD when his squad picked up a series of injuries during games against Sherrif YC (0-0) and Shelbourne (1-0) during the week.

Defenders, Conor McDermott and Gavin Peers both hobbled off injured and midfielder, Aaron McEneff, was also among several players to pick up knocks which forced their manager’s hand.

In fact, it has been a challenging start to pre-season so Shiels opted to give his players a much needed rest day yesterday as he accepts the months of January and February were always going to prove problematic when it came to preparing for the new season which begins in just three weeks’ time.

“The legs are tired so players are resting today (Thursday) and we’re back training again tomorrow. You have to be careful with the players’ workload. We don’t want them to get fit and then get injured.

“So I’m really pleased we’ve got our physio, Michael Hegarty to manage the injuries to the best of his ability - he’s a vital part of our backroom staff.

“Where we’ve been training hasn’t helped either. We need to get more support for the players in terms of playing surfaces.

“We’ve been training on synthetics maybe too much and now we’re going on grass tomorrow. It’s difficult to explain from a scientific point of view but we have to monitor it carefully as we go into the season. We haven’t had enough game time. We’ve lost three friendlies in the one week which has been significant.

The only downside of summer football is that pre-season suffers. Our preparation months are January and February and they’re the most inclement months of the year.

Kenny Shiels

“The only downside of summer football is that pre-season suffers. Our preparation months are January and February and they’re the most inclement months of the year.”

Shiels will be hoping things run a bit more smoothly for tomorrow afternoon’s scheduled friendly against Bluefin Sport Intermediate League side, Banbridge Town at Crystal Park. (K.O., 2.00 p.m.)

Banbridge boss, Stuart King is delighted to welcome the Candy Stripes to Crystal Park and is expecting Shiels to field a strong starting line-up.

“Our young players must aspire to growing and developing to become the best players possible and facing sides like Derry City can only help.

“We are expecting close to a full-strength Derry City panel as they have had a number of friendlies postponed so far due to the weather and the season starts in a few weeks.

“Although it is great to have Derry City down here, we obviously want to get something out of it beyond just the friendly. Coming into such a big period of the season, our ambitions are to push on and finish as high as possible and this Derry City match is an important part of our build-up.”

Meanwhile, Derry City Football Club will hold their Annual General Meeting for 2018 at Da Vinci’s Hotel on Tuesday 20th February, with proceedings to begin at 6.30pm.

This event is open to shareholders only.