KENNY SHIELS insists he will field his strongest possible team for tonight’s FAI Cup second round clash against high flying First Division outfit, Drogheda United.
With an EA Sports Cup semi-final against First Division leaders, Limerick to look forward to after the mid-season break, Shiels is also hoping to progress in the League of Ireland’s premier cup competition.
We won five on the bounce at Brandywell and then dropped points against Sligo and Finn Harps so we want to get back to winning ways at home and give the supporters the performance we feel we owe them.Kenny Shiels
However, he reckons his side will be tested to the full by Pete Mahon’s side who are currently second in the First Division and pushing for promotion.
And the Derry boss is clearly determined to avoid a cup upset on home soil having ‘done his homework’ on the ‘Drogs’.
“We’ll be going with strong side, definitely,” said Shiels. “We’ve got to be very prepared for this one.
“It’s a good game,” he added. “Drogheda have a lot of good players. We’ve had them watched and I’ve watched them myself.
“They’re attack-minded. Their midfield is very good. I remember Sean Thornton who was at Tranmere and they’ve got Sean Breen and Aaron Molloy in there. And their defence is quite solid and they have a good goalkeeper in McGuinness.
“They also have a big lad in Sean O’Connor up front who is very strong. They’re pushing for promotion and are well up there in second place so we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Having put two disappointing results against Finn Harps (2-2) and Cork City (2-1) behind him, Shiels feels he owes the fans a good performance at Brandywell.
“We have to make sure we’re ready for this one. I want to move on from the Cork game and talk positively as often as I can.
“They have confidence throughout the team at the minute. It’s not an easy fixture but if we minimise mistakes we’ve a really good chance of going through.”
“We must be patient while aggressive and purposeful in our movement.
“The FAI Cup is the creme de la creme. It’s our next match which is always the most important. That’s where it is in my method of thinking. We’ve got to be ready for it and all of my energy is always focused on the next game.
“It’s a tough cup game but we’ll approach it like we approach all our games and that’s to go out and try and win it.
“They’ll be up for it and we’ll be expecting a really tough game. We won five on the bounce at Brandywell and then dropped points against Sligo and Finn Harps so we want to get back to winning ways at home and give the supporters the performance we feel we owe them.”
Derry defeated the ‘Boynesiders’ 5-0 in the 2014 FAI Cup quarter-final replay at Brandywell when Rory Patterson netted a hat-trick before losing to St Pat’s in the final at the Aviva Stadium that year.
The ‘Candy Stripes’ also knocked the Drogs out of the FAI Cup at the third round stage (3-0) last season before losing to Cork City after a quarter-final replay at Turners Cross.
City midfielder, Gareth McGlynn remains sidelined with a hamstring injury while Harry Monaghan (knee) is also ruled out through injury.
Meanwhile , Shiels is frustrated by the delay in gaining clearance to sign Austrian midfielder Lukas Schubert.
The 26-year-old, who was sidelined for almost two years because of a heart condition, has been with SV Grondig for the last eight seasons.
“I’m a little bit annoyed about it - we’ve applied for international clearance,” said Shiels.
“One association is blaming the other, they’re blaming Uefa but someone’s not doing their job and Lukas is the victim of that. He is a player who will excite our supporters and fit in with our style of play.”