KENNY SHIELS faces an ill-timed defensive headache ahead of Derry City’s opening home clash against free-scoring Limerick at Maginn Park after left-back, Ben Doherty was ruled out for up to three weeks with an ankle injury.
The teenager who started on the left side of a back four in the 4-1 win over Bohemians at Dalymount Park, hobbled off and was replaced by Scott Whiteside after 68 minutes after sustaining a sprained ankle.
Experienced centre half, Aaron Barry could therefore be set for an earlier than anticipated return to action following his successful hip surgery, having played 90 minutes of City reserves’ 2-1 win over Fanad United at Traigh-a-Loch in the Ulster Senior League clash on Sunday afternoon.
New signing Alon Netzer also played 90 minutes of that match in Fanad, however, Shiels reckons the game comes too soon for Israeli defender’s League of Ireland introduction.
“We’re struggling because we’ve lost a left back which means we can’t bring Dean (Jarvis) in to play centre back again,” explained Shiels. “Inadvertently it’s affected two positions and that’s caused us a little bit of a problem.
“Aaron Barry came through 90 minutes against Fanad but he wasn’t tested as such in that it wasn’t a League of Ireland game but it was a game nonetheless. It’s probably a bit early for Aaron. Alon Netzer isn’t ready either despite playing against Fanad.”
We’re struggling because we’ve lost a left back which means we can’t bring Dean (Jarvis) in to play centre back again. Inadvertently it’s affected two positions and that’s caused us a little bit of a problem.Kenny Shiels
Shiels could opt to play three at the back, should Barry fail to make it, with skipper, Ryan McBride flanked by both Jarvis and Conor McDermott while Whiteside and Sam Todd also come into contention.
“We’re struggling and I haven’t made a decision regarding who is going to play and who’s not. But we have to put someone in.”
Shiels confirmed that Rory Patterson will also be sidelined for at least three weeks after sustaining medial ligament damage in his knee - the result of a block tackle during the first half of Friday night’s league opener.
“It looks like he’ll be out for three weeks. I’ve been told three weeks by my physio. Both Rory and Ben will both be out for that same time frame.”
Although Nathan Boyle came off the bench to score twice and also added an assist in the big Dublin win, Shiels reckons Patterson’s absence will be sorely felt.
“We haven’t got a player like Rory in terms of his hold-up play. We need to look at it in a way in which we can replace that.We have to look at the alternatives we have. We can’t say such and such a player will start but we’ve got Mikhail (Kennedy), we’ve got Ronan Curtis, Nathan Boyle - three good attacking players and Mark Timlin from the sides. But Rory’s going to be a loss no matter what way we look at. We can’t dress it up any other way.”
The Derry City boss is braced for a much tougher test at their new Buncrana base this weekend with the arrival of a Limerick team he believes are favourites for the win.
“We must make sure we produce a positive performance on Friday night against what I believe is the best team in the league.
“They’ve invested for Europe. They’ve invested for the title and brought in the guy from Brazil (Rodrigo Tosi) - they’ve brought in exceptional players.But we can’t underestimate our lads,” continued Shiels. “It’s the youngest team in the league against probably the oldest team. They have loads of experience which will make them favourites.”
Meanwhile, Derry City will hold a fans’ forum tomorrow night (Wednesday) at Da Vinci’s Hotel from 6.30pm.
The Forum will give Derry supporters the opportunity to talk about the 2017 season, particularly with games staged at Maginn Park, in Buncrana.
Both club chairman, Philip O’Doherty and manager, Kenny Shiels will be in attendance to answer questions from supporters.
Derry city lotto
The numbers drawn in this week’s Derry City Lotto, sponsored by Kitcheneque, were 12, 13, 19 and 23.
Last week’s Jackpot was not won and the total rises to £2,950.