Having added Seanan Clucas to his small first team squad last week, the Brandywell boss has now focused his total attention on the trip to Eamonn Deacy Park in Galway this Friday night.
And with tough games against Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic on the horizon, Hutton was the first to agree that his youngsters face a difficult start to the campaign.
TOUGH, BUT LOOKING
FORWARD TO CHALLENGE
“Away to Galway, home to Dundalk then back-to-back trips to Sligo and St. Pat’s, that’s very tough,” admitted Hutton. “But we’re now looking forward to the challenge.”
“Our pre-season preparation has been completed and, to be honest, all the players are fed up looking at each other. We’ve had a good campaign, the players have got game-time under their belts and we’re ready to get started,” he added.
“The players have looked sharp and enthusiastic and we must now take that forward into the Galway game on Friday night, that’s our only focus and we will not be looking any further than that.”
Hutton also threw out a challenge to his young players given that just two members of the squad are aged over 25 years!
“First team jerseys are up for grabs,” insisted Hutton. “We have had five or six members of our Under-19 team training with us over recent weeks and with four players suspended for our opening game this weekend, a window of opportunity has opened.
“We have a very tight, compact squad so there will be opportunities for young players to be drafted in and it’s up to them to stake a claim by getting noticed.
“Therefore, it’s very important that when they are called upon, they must be ready to step in.”
Hutton pointed to the progress of youngsters such as Patrick McClean (younger brother of James), Ronan Curtis, George Kelly, Chris Flanagan and Ryan McFadden among others.
“They are all doing well at the moment and they are challenging to win a league title with our under-19 squad, so while there is youth, there is also quality, but let’s not get carried away as it’s a massive step-up from under-19 level to play in senior football in the League of Ireland,” continued Hutton.
“We may lack numbers, but I do believe we will be competitive over the 2015 campaign. Training has been fantastic this season and, thankfully, we have assembled a very good group.
“The work ethic has been excellent and the boys are looking very sharp and I’ve no doubt we could surprise quite a few people this season.”
He rejected suggestions that the “Candy Stripes” could emerge as an unknown quantity.
“Obviously, we have lost a few experienced personnel, but our young players are well known, many of them having already sampled first team action last season.
“However, many pundits will have written us off given the financial cutbacks which we’ve had to make, so I believe quite a few commentators will have dismissed us.
“We have managed to keep the nucleus of last year’s squad, so we have retained a very good core group but the size of the squad will always be a concern.
“I’ve no doubt that we will worry in relation to injuries and suspensions, but we have what we have and we’ll go with that. If there are areas we need to strengthen, they we will look at that during the July transfer window.
“The vast majority of our players tick all the boxes. They has forced a genuine identity with Derry and the north-west area and I think it’s very important that we have a local identity, we must have an affinity with our supporters and I genuinely believe we have that,” concluded Hutton.