FINN HARPS’ manager, Peter Hutton, would be the first to admit that when it rains, it pours over the Ballybofey club these days.
Indeed, the player/boss now faces a cruciate ligament injury crisis with the news that young striker, Blain Curtis (on right), has been ruled out of the season with the same injury which has kept Stephen O’Donnell and, more recently, Hugh Carlin sidelined this season.
As Hutton prepares to boost his players prior to tonight’s trip to basement side, SD Galway, he travels without the services of goal scorers Kevin McHugh and Adam Clarke who both remain suspended.
“It doesn’t rain, but it pours,” sighed Hutton when interviewed this week. “It’s another massive body blow to both ourselves and to Blain. It’s a nightmare situation. We must’ve run over one thousand black cats!
“It’s just really, really unfortunate that we have three players who have sustained such severe injuries to keep them out of action for the entire season.”
Harps, therefore, will travel to the “City of Tribes” with a severely depleted squad with Keith Cowan also sidelined with injury.
Tonight’s fixture is the last game before the break – which can’t come quick enough for Hutton and his troops. And with the Transfer Window set to open on the first day of July, does the Derry man see an influx of new signings, despite the current financial difficulties?
“At the moment we’re just trying to get to the break,” said Hutton.
“I don’t think it’s worthwhile rushing out and making a panic-buy. We have two games before the Transfer Window opens on July 1st so we’ll weigh up our options between now and then. It’s important that we do what’s best for the future of the club.
“It’s been a very tough couple of weeks for us and it’s important that we get to the break and recharge the batteries because I firmly believe we’ll be a completely different animal after the three weeks off,” he maintained.
“Hopefully, we will be in a position to strengthen the squad but that all depends on finances. Results have been poor of late and as a result attendances have dropped, meaning that there isn’t as much money coming into the club. It’s one big cycle. But, ideally, we’d like to bring in a few new faces.”
Hutton is also likely to be without Shane McGinty, who suffered medial ligament damage in training, but the Harps manager said he won’t hesitate to give youngsters Jordan Duffy and Gary Merritt a chance to fill the large void in attack.
“Shane will be assessed in the lead up to the game but we won’t throw him in - or any other player who is not 100 per cent - just to fill a void. We’re not afraid to give some of the younger guys a go. Jordan Duffy and Gary Merritt will definitely come into the equation for Friday night. Both of them have done very well over the last couple of weeks.”
Harps have only played Salthill Devon twice in Galway in the past, and on each occasion have emerged victorious with clean sheets. A similar scenario tonight would delight Hutton. The home side have yet to win a game this season, but Hutton is quick to point out that their fellow Galway side, Mervue Untied, were in a similar position when Harps made the trip three last month.
“We’re very conscious that we travelled to Mervue in a similar situation and that backfired on us. Tony Mannion will have his side well-drilled and looking to make amends for their defeat against us when they had two men sent-off.
“For us, it’s a chance to put an end to a run of bad results and give ourselves a lift going into the break,” concluded the Harps’ boss.