International break a blessing in disguise for Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins and his walking wounded

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​Ruaidhri Higgins believes the international break has come at the 'perfect time' for Derry City as the club's walking wounded take the opportunity to return to fitness.

​The City boss will be frustrated his team went into the two-week hiatus on the back of two home draws but with their unbeaten start to the campaign intact after the opening six matches, Higgins believes it 'adds up to a decent start'.

Some key referee decisions or - in the case of Dundalk’s Greg Sloggett's accumulation of fouls without punishment - a lack of them, have cost Derry over the past two weeks while the growing injury list has also held the Candy Stripes back from opening up a further gap on champions Shamrock Rovers.

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As it stands, they go into the break three points behind leaders Bohemians but Higgins agrees the club will use the break in league action to their full advantage.

"It gives players who are injured time to become available for selection time to become available, it's welcome and timely," he said.

On a personal level the break in play will also give Higgins time to reflect on what has been a hugely difficult couple of months following the tragic passing of his brother, Kevin.

"I think for myself and the players and the staff it's perfect timing we need it. The players need it. I need it and it also gives an opportunity for a few injured players to get themselves going and hopefully be available for selection away to Shelbourne."

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Higgins will want his players returning refreshed ahead of that trip to Tolka Park where Damien Duff's men will no doubt want to avenge their FAI Cup Final hammering.

Ciaran Coll celebrates his equalising goal against Sligo Rovers with Ryan Graydon.Ciaran Coll celebrates his equalising goal against Sligo Rovers with Ryan Graydon.
Ciaran Coll celebrates his equalising goal against Sligo Rovers with Ryan Graydon.

However, the City boss knows his team must produce better than their second half display against Sligo.

"I don't think we were great at all bar the first 25 or 30 minutes. But I do feel over the balance of play we did deserve at least a point from the game. We started really well. They scored with their first attack and I don't think we recovered brilliantly from it for the remainder of the game.

"I thought we were patchy and bitty and lost our discipline a wee bit particularly in possession which isn't like us."

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It was another late goal under Higgins as Ciaran Coll headed home with nine minutes to go and considering his makeshift back four at the end of the match, it was a pleasing outcome.

"We kept going and the amount of late goals we've scored during my time at the club, real credit to the players we keep going and we don't shirk it. It wasn't for the lack of effort that we didn't win the game. It was just a patchy performance.”

The amount of stoppages with players going down injured and Sligo’s slowing of the game certainly didn’t help Derry build up ahead of steam. The sight of Shane McEleney coming off injured with what appeared to be cramp, also didn’t help Higgins’ troops as they went in search of a winner.

"We ended up with a midfielder at right back. A midfielder at centre back, a left back at centre back and a midfielder at left back so the balance in our team wasn't right.

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"I can never fault these lads' commitment but I was just slightly disappointed from 25, 35 minutes on with their performance.

"It was a great delivery from Ben and a great header. I just felt at that moment we had enough to go on and win it but we huffed and puffed and we had a couple of things dropping in the box but again, unlike last week I don't think we were as good.

"We just accept it and move on. We have a couple of weeks now to dust ourselves down and go again."