Liam Buckley reckons Derry City's title charge will go right down to the wire
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Derry ended a four match winless run with a 2-0 victory over Buckley's Cork City at Brandywell to revive their hopes of catching Rovers who they meet tonight in Tallaght.
Despite a difficult run of results, Buckley has seen enough of Higgins' troops to predict the Candy Stripes will challenge the Hoops all the way to the end.
"It (title race) most definitely is alive," said Buckley. "Derry have gone through a little patch where they haven't won a few games. That can happen but you can be surprised what a win can do.
"Obviously they're missing a few players as well who would jump into their starting line-up. You just have to be patient.
"With due respect to Ruaidhri he's done great. Cup success, league right there in the mix and could go any way. It's just about being patient because when you're down some serious players like he is it can be a little bit difficult because you're looking to get rhythm in your game, confidence and all that goes with it. Some of the players he's missing they're top quality.
"Ruaidhri has won things, he's a winner so he can win he just needs time to make sure of that. When you have injuries it can be rough because some of your best players are out of the picture and it can be a confidence thing but they will come back and I've no doubt Derry will challenge right through to the end. They just need to be patient.
"I understand the situation, it's not unlike ourselves as we're down three or four players with ACLs or whatever and they've gone for the season and you need to plan ahead. But what we're planning and what Derry are planning are slightly different. I've no doubt they have eyes on the top of the table."
Derry boosted their title chances with the signing of ex-Dundee winger Paul McMullan this week.
Higgins is closing in on the signing of defender Sam Todd from UCD this summer but he’s also understood to be in the market for a striker in the July window with several names linked to the club including what would be an audacious move for former Coventry and Cork City forward Sean Maguire and Lincoln's Freddy Draper who has played his final game on loan at Drogheda after being sent off against Dundalk at the weekend.
Buckley, however, has ruled out any potential move for Cork striker Ruairi Keating who he claims is going nowhere in the short-term.
"With respect to Ruairi going anywhere, we'd be left without a centre forward and he's one of the best centre forwards in the league so I just don't see that happening in the short term that's for sure."
The former St Pat's boss admits the Rebels will be intent on strengthening their own squad in the summer window.
"We've got Drogheda next week and then the window opens in July and we'll see where we go from there. We'll bring one or two in during July just to help what we have because we have a very thin squad."