KENNY SHIELS admits his Derry City side is ‘down to the bare bones’ with his threadbare squad ravaged by injuries going into tonight’s EA Sports Cup second round clash with Sligo Rovers at Brandywell. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
The battling 1-1 draw with Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium on Saturday clearly took its toll with Aaron Barry (hip), Harry Monaghan (knee) and Dean Jarvis (calf) all sustaining injuries on the night.
Shiels remains hopeful that left-back, Jarvis, recovers in time for the visit of the ‘Bit o’Red’. Barry, however, is ruled out while Monaghan faces at least six weeks on the sidelines after damaging his medial ligaments in Longford, both players now joining Gareth McGlynn (hamstring) in the treatment room.
Monaghan was taken off six minutes into the second half and replaced by Conor McCormack who is expected to start in his usual central midfield role against Sligo tonight.
And, with Barry out for at least one game following the recurrence of a troublesome hip injury, it could well keep the door open for Patrick McClean to keep his place at centre half after his stunning equalising strike against the ‘Midlanders’ at the weekend.
It’s the worst possible time to pick up injuries as City are currently on a seven game unbeaten run and face two fixtures in the next four days against Sligo and then Bohemians in the league on Friday night. Shiels, who has been consistent in his team selection this season, must now reshuffle his pack.
We’re slightly different than other teams. As we’ve gone seven games unbeaten we haven’t made any changes and then the bench then suffers because they don’t get enough game-time.Kenny Shiels
“It’s just bad timing and having three games in six games doesn’t help,” said the Derry boss. “We have to see if we can get something from these games.
“Harry (Monaghan) will be missing a minimum of six weeks,” confirmed Shiels. “So, both Harry and Aaron (Barry) will miss out. We have to get our selection right but we’re down to the bare bones now.
“I’ll wait and see how people are before the match as Dean Jarvis is doubtful as well.”
Derry meet Sligo for the 20th time in this competition and for the fifth time in six seasons. The ‘Candy Stripes’ hold the upper hand on their North West neighbours with 12 wins.
Despite the increasing injury list at Brandywell, Shiels says he wants to treat the competition with respect and is hoping for a prolonged run in the cup this year.
“You have to treat the competition with respect,” added Shiels. “You want to have a cup run but we just haven’t the bodies at the minute and we have to manage the bench as well.
“We’re slightly different than other teams. As we’ve gone seven games unbeaten, we haven’t made any changes and the bench then suffers because they don’t get enough game-time.”
A few weeks back, Shiels rated Sligo, alongside St Patrick’s Athletic, as the two best footballing sides in the league this season. And the Co. Derry man is braced for a difficult assignment for whichever team he chooses to field tonight.
Sligo, he believes, have turned the corner in terms of their performances, despite languishing near the foot of the Premier Division table.
“They are a good football team,” he said. “It should be a good game.
“They drew with St Pat’s and drew with Cork City and should have got something from Dundalk on Friday night, so they’ve had good performances and have turned the corner very well.”