PATRICK McEleney has emerged a major doubt for tonight’s trip to Tolka Park, Derry’s versatile midfielder having sustained a dead leg in training yesterday.
ARTHUR DUFFY reports
Confirming that McEleney was struggling to make the fixture, Brandywell boss, Declan Devine, said the player would undergo a pre-match test but, at the time of writing, McEleney’s invovlement appeared to be highly unlikely.
“Patrick picked up a dead leg in training on Wednesday and while he hates missing matches, I’ve my doubts about him recovering in time for the Shelbourne fixture,” said Declan.
“He will travel with the squad and have a pre-match test if we believe there’s a chance he will make it but, at the same time, we can’t afford to take any risks and if he’s not fit he will not be involved,” added the Derry boss.
Captain, Kevin Deery, has returned to light training but tonight’s trip to Dublin as come a week to early for the central midfielder. However, Owen Morrison, has recovered from a calf problem and the winger will rejoin the squad.
Deery, therefore, is expected to target a possible return for the visit of Cork City to Brandywell next Friday night.
Davy McDaid reported a tight hamstring in midweek but he did take part in yesterday’s training session and, according to Devine, should be okay to take his place in the front line against the Drumcondra side.
Looking forward to the game, Devine suggested that he had always found matches in Tolka Park difficult encounters but, at the same time, he agreed that the Northside venue had been a happy hunting ground for the “Candy Stripes” in the past.
“Matches involving Derry City and Shelbourne have always been significant games down the years and given the unbeaten start they’ve had over the past two games, this fixture will be no different,” insisted Devine.
“Sligo Rovers had to depend on a last minute goal to secure a share of the spoils in the first match of the season at Tolka Park while Shelbourne travelled to Dalymount last week and recorded a 2-0 victory in the big North Dublin derby, so we’ll have to be at ourselves if we’re to keep our good run going.
“But we always knew that Shelbourne would be strong this year. They’ve brought in quite a few players and it’s clear that they are anxious to do well. They have the players capable of causing any team in the Premier Division problems.
“Players such as David Cassidy, Paddy Kavanagh, Philly Hughes, Glen Cronin and Stephen Paisley have given Shelbourne great experience so we’ll have to be very careful.
“We’ll be up against a strong Premier Division team and it will be a very tough game for us. Shelbourne could prove a real handful this season as their results have shown.”
However, Devine said his players were prepared for the challenge and while he may have to plan without a few, he was confident those who came in would not let themselves down.
“It’s another challenge for us but it’s one we will meet head-on. Our players want to be involved in big matches and as far as I’m concerned, they don’t come any bigger than Shelbourne,” declared Devine.
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