DECLAN DEVINE has heaped praise on his gifted ‘young guns’ who have helped guide Derry City through its recent injury blighted nightmare.
SIMON COLLINS reports
David McDaid, pictured right, (21) who has registered goals in his last two league games, is poised to make his 100th appearance for the Brandywell club when Shamrock Rovers arrive in town tonight.
And 20 year-old winger, Stephen McLaughlin is incredibly set to take his total to 50 competitive games for the club since his move from Finn Harps just two seasons ago.
Nineteen year-old, Patrick McEleney, who reached the 100 mark against Sligo Rovers two weeks ago, makes up the talented trio Devine has singled out for special praise ahead of the visit of Stephen Kenny’s troops tonight.
With new signing Conor Murphy suspended for tonight’s game, the onus will be on the attacking qualities of the three youngsters who are expected to carry the threat to Rovers.
“Those three players have shown great commitment to the club this year, playing with injuries and they don’t miss too many matches as their record will tell you,” said Devine.
“Whenever we’re missing so many experienced players through injury, these younger players need the support because they’ve been pulling us through games and the quality has been very good.
“People have been a bit down lately because of results but you have to look at our injuries and the talent of our young players who are really stepping up to the plate at the minute.
“I’ve been extremely impressed with both Patrick and Stephen,” he added. “They’re two very talented young players and they’re still only 19 and 20 years of age. Yet they’re into their third season in senior football.
“They’re still developing into top class players but we have to be very careful that they’re getting the proper support and I think they’re tremendous talents for the club. Patrick deserves enormous credit for his contributions and Stephen has scored 14 goals in all competitions yet he’s still just learning his trade. He’s turning out to be a terrific prospect.
“With Shamrock Rovers coming to the Brandywell, these young lads are only 19 and 20 and yet they’re our match winners! And Davy McDaid at 21 years-old has chipped in with a lot of valuable goals this year.
“Davy scored a huge goal for us in Tallaght earlier in the season and he’s scored in his last two appearances.
“When I look at those three players and see where they’ve came from and how much they’ve improved over the years I think they deserve so much credit.
“Davy gives you enormous energy; puts people under pressure and he’s a young boy and needs support and backing from the fans and coaching staff.
“Patrick has played up front, he’s played in midfield and as the drop-off striker and wide on the right. Davy McDaid has played in various positions so they’re versatile and I’ve been very impressed by the attacking threat that the three of them possess.
“I want people to get behind them, support them and encourage them at the Brandywell and help them to play at the top of their game.”
Devine has been frustrated by the late goals conceded in recent matches against Sligo Rovers and Dundalk and has urged his players to maintain their concentration levels as they attempt to rectify their three game losing streak at Brandywell.
“We’ve been disappointed at some of the goals we’ve given away at the Brandywell,” he said. We’ve given away some very poor goals at home which have punished us.”
Ruaidhri Higgins returns to the fold after serving his suspension, while Rovers are without Aaron Greene (knee) while Ken Oman will do a fitness test before the game. Graham Gartland is also a doubt with a back concern.