PETER HUTTON insists the pressure is all on Stephen Kenny and his reigning League of Ireland champions, Dundalk, as the ‘Lilywhites’ arrive on Foyleside tonight to take on a heavily depleted Derry City outfit. (Kick-off 7.45 p.m.)
The weight of expectation on Dundalk has increased significantly after Kenny’s troops clinched a league and cup ‘double’ last season.
Dundalk are hotly tipped to retain their league title this season having strengthened their championship winning squad with the additions of Jake Kelly and Ronan Finn, so the spotlight is shining brightly on the visitors as they attempt to take maximum points from Brandywell.
However, Hutton doesn’t expect the Co. Louth men to crumble under the pressure tonight and expects them to ‘have a go’ at his young side.
“There’s a weight of expectation on them certainly,” said Hutton. “I’m sure they will look forward to coming to the Brandywell because they’ll play against a team that will go out and play as well, whereas other teams go out and park the bus against them. That’s not us!
“That’s not our strength as we have a lot of offensive players, so we have to play to the capabilities and strengths of our team.
“There is expectation on them but that’s part and parcel of being league champions,” he added. “It goes with the territory.
“I don’t see them playing in any other way than coming out and having a go at us,” Hutton predicted. “I’m sure Stephen Kenny will be making sure his own team don’t become complacent after winning against Longford last week.
“It’s been well documented that we have a small squad and it’s important we focus on our own game and make sure we ourselves don’t become complacent after getting the win in Galway. We can’t take our foot off the gas. Far from it. It will be a great test for this young team and one they’re eagerly looking forward to.
“It will be a great challenge for our young players to test themselves against the champions and see how they do.”
Hutton’s injury concerns haven’t improved from the opening night of the season with strike trio, Anthony Elding, Cillian Morrison and Nathan Boyle all expected to miss out while Stephen Dooley (back) faces up to two weeks on the sidelines.
The ever present, Gerard Doherty is also struggling with a hip injury and Shaun Patton is also rated doubtful for the match after aggravating a knee injury during the Galway game. Midfielder, Seanan Clucas has yet to receive his clearance but the club are hopeful he will be available to play.
However, the return of skipper, Ryan McBride and Mark Timlin from suspension will provide City with a major boost going into tonight’’s clash.
“Ideally we’d like to have a fully fit squad to go up against them but it’s not to be. We look forward to it none the less and we’ll certainly give them a game.
“Anthony Elding and Cillian Morrison and Nathan Boyle are all out,” he confirmed. “Hopefully they will start running again and start integrating slowly with the rest of the group next week.
“Shaun Kelly who has had an injury prior to the Galway game with his knee. It has swollen up again after the game and he hasn’t trained this week so we’ll assess him before the match.
“And Gerard Doherty hasn’t trained the last few days because of a very sore hip. He’s struggling as well and Seanan Clucas is the other one we’re waiting on. We still haven’t received international clearance and that could go down to the wire. We’re hoping that will be cleared by tomorrow.”
Hoping for a Big Crowd
Hutton has called on Derry City fans to come out in force to support the club tonight.
“We’re hoping for a big crowd. It’s the first home game of the season. It’s live football. It’s your own city so hopefully those who were here last season and those who have been here in the past come along and support their club.
“It’s your local club with local players so why not come along and support us.. It’s going to be a great occasion and we’re hoping to make the Brandywell a fortress again.”