PETER HUTTON admits he will have one eye on next Friday’s season defining FAI Cup quarter-final with Drogheda United as he takes his depleted troops to face title chasing Dundalk at Oriel Park tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
The Derry boss claims his side resemble the ‘walking wounded’ after Friday night’s battling victory over Sligo Rovers at Brandywell took its toll.
The casualty list is growing and in-form winger, Michael Duffy who played just the final 28 minutes of Friday’s clash against the ‘Bit O’Red, will be unavailable following his call-up to the N. Ireland U21 squad.
Therefore it’s safe to say, Hutton will select his team to face Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk side with the FAI Cup clash against Drogheda four days later at the forefront of his mind.
On the plus side, top goalscorer, Rory Patterson’s return in the second half of Friday’s game will have given Hutton a much needed lift.
An extended FAI Cup run is the priority for Hutton now, therefore tomorrow night’s rescheduled league clash with Dundalk is something of a hindrance for the Derry boss.
“To be honest I couldn’t care about Dundalk,” said Hutton. “It’s about us and making sure we’re competitive on Monday night with one eye on Friday’s game.
“It’s like the walking wounded and Michael Hegarty (club physio) is going to be busy over the weekend. We just have to assess everyone at training,” he added. “It’s a bit of a casualty list we have at the moment, everyone seems to be carrying a bag of ice. We’ll just see how everyone is at training over the weekend and see who’s fighting fit for Dundalk.”
Following league leaders, Dundalk’s untimely defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Friday night, coupled with second placed Cork City’s win at Shamrock Rovers, City can expect a tough test against Kenny’s side as they attempt to get their title charge back on track.
However, the ‘Candy Stripes’ go into the game on the back of a superb victory over Sligo Rovers where they battled from a goal behind to claim victory on Friday night.
Defensive duo, Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry both found the back of the net to claim three points which takes them level on points with fifth placed Sligo who have a game in hand.
And Hutton was delighted with the battling qualities his side had shown on the night.
“I’m delighted with the three points,” said the Derry boss. “It was a good, battling performance and we played some good passages of football.
“We fell behind against the run of play and conceded a sloppy goal but we rallied well and got back into the game with two well taken goals from set-pieces.
“We created some fantastic chances but unfortunately didn’t capitalise on them and then we were hit with a sucker punch when we were caught square and to be fair to Eamon Zayed, he took the goal well.
“We got back into the game after that and created a few chances and I was delighted to go in at the break 1-1.
“Ryan McBride scored with a great header from the corner,” he recalled. “We showed great character and it’s probably the first time we’ve come from behind to win this season which I’m delighted about.
“It was a great, battling performance. It was great for Aaron Barry to get on to the end of a corner. We spoke about that before the game. I asked them if there was any chance of a centre half scoring a goal from a set piece and then we get two,” he laughed.
“It’s important you get goals from all over the park but to be fair to Aaron Barry and Ryan McBride, they’ve been consistently good all season and fully deserve the plaudits.
“They’re exceptionally good players and they have a good partnership.”
That partnership is expected to be broken up temporarily for tomorrow night’s clash with Dundalk, however, as Hutton hinted Shane McEleney could be in line for a start as he rings the changes.
“Young Shane (McEleney) is there too fighting for his place so we have good competition for places. It’s very much a squad game. We’ll assess everybody and see who is fit for Monday.”