SHamrock Rovers are anxious to keep their impressive record at the Brandywell intact, when they arrive on Foyleside tonight to extend their unbeaten run this season. (7.45 p.m.)
Arthur duffy reports
And while last night’s sensational suspension of teenage talent, Patrick McEleney, will certainly not have helped Stephen Kenny’s preparation, the Dubliner, earlier in the day, suggested that Rovers probably boasted the best squad in the Premier Division.
Looking forward to the game, Kenny (right) noted the size of Rovers first team squad.
“Having noted the team which played Lisburn Distillery in the Setanta Cup in midweek, it just goes to show the strength in depth they have,” noted Kenny.
“There were quite a few changes from the team I watched defeating Sligo recently at the Showgrounds, so they are in good form at the moment having opened the season with three striaght victories,” he added.
“However, I’d rather concentrate on ourselves and despite taking just four points from our opening three matches - we really should have taken seven - we haven’t played that badly.
“We missed a penalty against Sligo and we’ve conceded poor goals, but we’ve played well and always looked like scoring goals despite the absence of key players. I think thats says quite a lot about the players brought in,” suggested the Dubliner.
“So the players have done really well and the fact that we’ve netted four goals in our recent two matches away from also says quite a lot about our confidence in trying to go out and win every game we play.
“That situation will certainly not change with the visit of Rovers and we’re keen to register another victory, particularly at the Brandywell having been unfortunate to lose against Sligo Rovers.”
Kenny was also looking forward to experiencing the support of a similar attendance to that which watched the Sligo game two weeks ago.
“Our home crowd always inspires the players and they continue to work their socks off as a result,” continued the Derry boss.
“Big crowds in the Brandywell provide great anticipation before matches and that’s what it is all about. We have a young team with players such as Shane and Patrick McEleney, Ruairi Harkin, Stephen McLaughlin, David McDaid, Danny Lafferty and Michael McCrudden experiencing their first season in the Premier Division.
“So, obviously, we can’t expect everything to go plan every week, but we know we are capable of producing top drawer performances against any team in this league.
“Our motivation is to produce such a performance against Rovers and secure three points which will give us a significant confidence boost. We’re certainly capable of that and, hopefully, we’ll produce the goods on the night,” concluded the Brandywell boss.
Supporting Rovers’ hopes of making it four wins on the trot comes the news that manager, Michael O’Neill, has just one fresh injury concern with Dean Kelly considered a doubt with a calf problem and defender, Craig Sives is also expected to miss the game due to a hamstring injury.
However, O’Neill insists that his squad will face a tough test at the Brandywell. “Every team expects a tough test when they travel to Derry and this is another big test for us as Derry are considered one of the fashionable teams in the Premier Division,” he said.
“The Brandywell is always a tough place to go and we expect it to be no different on Friday night as Derry now have a nice mix of youth and experience in their squad,” noted O’Neill.
“Having said that, out of the three games we have played at the Brandywell since I arrived at Rovers, we’ve managed to win two and draw one, so that’s not a bad record and, hopefully, we will continue that sequence this weekend.”