DECLAN Devine refuses to talk about bouncing back following back-to-back defeats against Sligo Rovers and U.C.D. when he leads Derry City to Drogheda for tonight’s tough encounter
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Indeed, the Brandywell boss opted to reflect on the positives of recent performances, despite the results, adding that he remained of the opinion that referees’ decisions had major impacts on both games.
“I’m not going to talk about bouncing back at this stage of the season. I’m convinced that we were unfortunate to lose two matches in a row for the first time this season and I’d much rather take the positives out of those performances.
“But it’s always nice to note that we had three players leading the chase for the Airtricity League’s ‘Player of the Year’ when Barry McNamee narrowly defeated both Gerard Doherty and Rory Patterson for the award,” he noted.
“We have two of the top three goalscorers in the Premier Division at the moment in Rory Patterson and Michael Rafter and, just for good measure, Derry City players have netted the ‘goals of the month’ for March and April with strikes from Rory Patterson and Patrick McEleney.
“Add in the fact that we have players in top form, we have goalscoring threats all over the park and we’re continuing to create scoring chances and I really don’t think we have too much to complain about on the ability and make-up of our current squad,” he added.
However, Devine agreed that his record in the tight confines of Hunky Dorys Park was not impressive this season, but he had high hopes that that pattern could change this evening.
“It’s a very tough match for us, there’s no doubt about that. I watched Drogheda play Limerick in Thomond Park in midweek and while they recorded a 1-0 victory, it could have been more,” he declared.
“They are a strong physical side and they will certainly pose us a few problems,” he insisted.
However, the Derry boss refused to be downbeat and claimed that his charges were all looking forward to the game and they were anxious to get back to winning ways.
“Dermot McCaffrey has been, in my opinion, very unfortunate to miss the game due to a one match suspension after being sent off against UCD last week while Paddy Kavanagh (hamstring) and Thomas Crawley (groin) remain out.
But Devine was delighted that his captain, Kevin Deery, would rejoin the first team squad for this evening’s game.
“Kevin has been back in training week and he has been added to the squad but we’ll see how he is on the day before making any decision on whether he will start the game.”
Shane McEleney, who was suspended against UCD returns to action while midfielder, Ruaidhri Higgins, will face a pre-match fitness test on his hip flexor before any decision will be made on his fitness,” confirmed Devine.
“Michael Rafter hasn’t trained this week having had to be replaced against UCD with a hamstring strain while Patrick McEleney was involved with the N. Ireland Under-21 squad and he returned with a back problem but, hopefully, he will be okay.
“We’ll look to the positives, try to play to the best of our ability and, hopefully, return home with a win,” concluded the Derry boss.