BRANDYWELL Stadium’s new synthetic pitch is expected to be fully installed this week and Derry City boss, Kenny Shiels is confident his players will adapt to the new surface immediately.
Derry City are into their second week of preseason training and Shiels is being proactive to ensure his players are ready to hit the ground running at the new Brandywell once the 2018 Airtricity Premier Division kicks-off on February 16th.
The Candy Stripes have been training on the 3G pitches at Leafair and St Columb’s College and the City boss reckons it will give his players an added edge when they play their first home fixture against Sligo Rovers on February 23rd.
“The boys are getting used to the synthetic pitches and we’re working at a high volume,” explained Shiels.
“I think the tempo in which you train has got a significant bearing on how you play and if we can keep our intensity at training high, which synthetic pitches allow you to do, then you can transfer that when we get into the real games, so much easier.”
When asked what his preference would be when it came to playing on either grass or artificial pitches Shiels responded: “If you compare a synthetic pitch to a mud bath of a pitch then the synthetic pitch is better.
If you’re comparing it to a top quality grass pitch then the grass pitch is better but it’s getting a top quality grass pitch is the problem.Kenny Shiels
“If you’re comparing it to a top quality grass pitch then the grass pitch is better but it’s getting a top quality grass pitch is the problem.”
Playing home matches on a 3G surface certainly hasn’t done Dundalk, Cliftonville and Crusaders any harm in recent years but Shiels doesn’t believe the turf will have a significant impact on the success of the club.
“I think that’s a coincidence more than anything because the teams like Dundalk and Crusaders, who won those leagues, had the best players and the biggest purses so you have to take that into consideration.”
Much has been made about the synthetic pitches contributing to player injuries but Shiels isn’t concerned, claiming there’s no conclusive evidence that turf increases the injury rate.
“I think the investigative work people have done on it tells us that there’s not necessarily more injuries, it’s different types of injuries,” explained the City boss.
“There’s maybe more hamstring and groin injuries. So there’s different types of injuries rather than more injuries.”
Shiels has been impressed with how the new additions in his squad have bedded in so far and claims he isn’t finished in the transfer market with a left-back and midfielder understood to be the priority.
“The boys are enthusiastic and working hard and they’ve got a good understanding of how we train. It’s a good mix of talent.
“It’s like building anything, it’s about making sure we have the right balance in our team and we want to get competition for places.
“I’m working away at it all the time on a daily basis. Every day I’m trying to get players in and also take the sessions. It’s a 24 hour job because when you’re not working your sleeping. That’s what you have to do to make sure things are in place.”
Derry City will play the first of its pre-season friendlies against Bluefin Championship One outfit, Larne at Inver Park on Friday, January 19th as former City players, Shane McEleney, Thomas Stewart and David McDaid are expected to line out against their former club to add an extra bit of spice.
The Candy Stripes will also field a team against Championship title chasing Ballyclare Comrades on the same night at Dixon Park before travelling to Dublin for fixtures against various Dublin clubs from January 21st.