KENNY SHIELS says Aaron Barry’s shirt will be ‘a big one to fill’ as the defender faces a period on the sidelines through injury.
However, Patrick McClean has shown he’s more than capable of filling the void and partnering skipper, Ryan McBride, at the heart of the Derry defence as the ‘Candy Stripes’ prepare for two games in four days.
The 19 year-old Creggan man’s thunderbolt strike at the City Calling Stadium earned a share of the spoils against Longford on Saturday and McClean is hoping it can be the springboard for a prolonged run in the team.
His equalising strike must surely be a ‘shoe-in’ for goal of the month and was, perhaps, the pick of the bunch so far this season.
Derry boss Shiels was delighted the defender came to the fore when called upon from the bench.
“I’m pleased for Patrick, he did really well and he has to sustain that now,” said Shiels. “He’s got a good left foot, he trains hard and I’m really pleased for him.”
Barry has been an integral part of Derry City’s impressive start to the season but he’s set to miss tomorrow’s home clash against the ‘Bit O’Red’ and Friday night’s visit of Bohemians.
His notable absence opens a window of opportunity for McClean and he’s hoping he can help the team maintain their unbeaten run.
“I just have to keep plugging away in training and see what happens,” said McClean. “It’s a cup game on Tuesday and, hopefully, I do get a run out but, whoever plays, it’s about supporting the team.”
McClean replaced Barry after 37 minutes against Longford and he showed good composure on the ball as Derry pushed for an equaliser. He claims he was as surprised as everyone else in the stadium when he saw his strike nestle in the back of the net.
“Gerard (Doherty) told me to push on a bit and I asked him if he was sure,” recalled McClean.
“As soon as Aaron McEneff got it, I was thinking he would have hit a shot but, when he gave me the ball, I just hit it. I thought I was going to take out a floodlight but, thankfully, it went in the top corner,” he said.
“I knew before the game Aaron was struggling and I had to stay warm. Once I got the nod, I went on and did alright. I settled down quickly as there was no tempo to the game really and no real pressure on me.
“I never expect to score, not even a tap-in, I just don’t score. We were 1-0 down so I just thought why not have a go and it went in.”