Injury worries for Institute boss Brian Donaghey
Head Coach Brian Donaghey wants his Institute players to display the same intensity in tomorrow’s clash at Harland & Wolff Welders (KO 3pm) as they finished with against Dergview and Ballyclare Comrades over recent weeks.
Although the Drumahoe club didn’t win those games, they played more on the front foot and had enough clear chances to win both and Donaghey wants a repeat performance at the Welders’ recently opened Blanchflower Stadium.
The Belfast men currently sit in sixth spot, five points behind leaders Newry City and they will be looking to bounce back after suffering a narrow home defeat to the leaders last weekend.
However, prior to that setback against Darren Mullen’s side, the Welders were unbeaten in their previous four league games, winning three of those, and Donaghey is expecting a tough test tomorrow afternoon, with striker Michael McLellan being the Welders danger man having already scored nine league goals this campaign.
“I have just watched a lot of videos of the Welders and extended highlights of the Newry game and I think they’re probably disappointed with that match because while Newry were very, very good, Welders have a threat,” he explained.
“McLellan is a top, top striker. He’s a threat and he’s scoring a pile of goals at the minute, but they also have bits and pieces of experience all over the pitch.
“They are getting used to their new 4G pitch and I think other teams are maybe catching them on the hop and I would love us to be another one of those teams because I think it does take a while for the players to adapt to a new 4G surface. They are getting used to it as well as every other team.
“The pitch looks really, really good. When these 4G pitches are newly put down first, the run of the ball is quite good but listen we are looking forward to the game and I don’t think we have anything to fear. We do have a few injury problems but we’ll definitely be going to their new stadium looking to hopefully get the three points.”
Donaghey confirmed that centre-back Shaun Leppard misses out because of concussion protocol while fellow defenders, Conor Quigley, Rhys McDermott and Joel Bradley Walsh are all doubtful and left-winger Jamie Dunne is suspended.
The ’Stute boss is hopeful though that whatever defence he selects can again produce the goods the way they did against Dergview last weekend, when they battled back for a share of the spoils at the Brandywell.
“Shaun Leppard is out with concussion, that’s his second head injury in the space of three months so he has been advised not to play,” explained the Stute boss.
“Conor Quigley has a thigh issue, Joel Bradley Walsh is getting treatment around the clock and hopefully he’ll make it; Rhys is probably another massive doubt and Jamie is suspended so it has been a really tough week,” he insisted.
“I feel it will be a very much changed back four again on Saturday, a bit like last Saturday against Dergview.
“Credit to the boys last week they didn’t mop about, they took the information on board and they reacted like men and went about their business quite well.
“I felt we looked okay for a very inexperience defence, a back four that probably has never been put together before but these are the things that are sent to try us every week.
“Look, would I be more confident with a fully fit squad going to the Welders this weekend? Yeah, I would but right now, after a very productive chat at training on Tuesday night, I think the lads are very much in the frame of where I see us going.
“There’s not a terrible a lot in the league and there hasn’t been too many teams who have blown us away. I think if we can just fine tune a bit in terms of having hopefully a productive transfer window for me in January, then we can continue to improve the squad.
“Listen, we are quite upbeat in the changing room and we aren’t looking back we are looking forward.”