Ruaidhri Higgins urges caution over return of injured Derry City stars

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​RUAIDHRI Higgins has urged caution over the return of some of Derry City's star players who made an 'encouraging' and timely recovery from injury ahead of a crunch double header in Dublin.

​Michael Duffy made an instant impact from the bench against Bohemians, scoring the winning goal last Friday night while skipper Patrick McEleney and Sadou Diallo both made returns from long lay-offs.

The City boss described having a near full quota of players at training this week as 'beautiful' and it was a rare sight for the Limavady man who reckons it's been more than two years since the last time he enjoyed the luxury.

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Cameron Dummigan and Colm Whelan are also nearing a return to action to bolster his options with the Candy Stripes perfectly poised in second position, just a single point behind leaders Shelbourne after 16 games.

Derry City players celebrate scoring against St Patrick's Athletic in their last meeting at Brandywell back in April. Photograph by Kevin Moore.Derry City players celebrate scoring against St Patrick's Athletic in their last meeting at Brandywell back in April. Photograph by Kevin Moore.
Derry City players celebrate scoring against St Patrick's Athletic in their last meeting at Brandywell back in April. Photograph by Kevin Moore.

Higgins, however, stressed the need for care to be taken with his returning players and doesn't expect them to find their best form 'overnight'.

“We haven't had it for two years, if you want to say it the way it really is," said Higgins frankly. "Listen, we're in a good place at the minute. Obviously, the lads have been out quite long term. It's not just going to happen overnight for them, they need minutes as well. But we are where we want to be and it's encouraging with the numbers coming back.”

“The team news is looking a bit healthier, which is great," he added. "We'll have good numbers available for Friday night and that's what you want. Obviously, Patrick came back into it, Michael came back into it, Diallo's come back into it. Dummigan's getting closer, so we'll see how he's looking for Friday night. So really, we're not too far away at all.”

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Mark Connolly is nursing a groin injury which forced his substitution against Bohs but overall Higgins is delighted with the health of his squad ahead of Friday's trip to Richmond Park.

"It's beautiful, to be honest. It's great and hopefully, with a bit of luck and all that sort of stuff, it'll continue that way for as long as possible.

"It's a juggling act, but we'll have the players' best interests at heart, but also try and win games along with them. It's very good from the coaching team's perspective that we have the quality now that's available.

“We've been training this week out at Oakgrove School as well and the pitches out there are outstanding. We've been in a good facility this weekend and the players have really enjoyed it."

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It’s another hectic schedule for Derry this weekend with a quick turnaround in matches.

And Higgins finds the fact Derry will have met Rovers and Pat’s three times in the opening 18 matches as ‘mental’.

“It's an interesting way to schedule the fixtures, but we'll not use that as an excuse. We'll do our very best to pick up as many points as we can over those four days.

“I think it's mental that by Monday night we'll have played Pats and Rovers three times by May. We've played Sligo once, we've played Dundalk once. It is what it is, but if you can pick up good points over the weekend then you know that you've only got to play them one more time, which isn't a disaster either.

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“We need to go down there [to Richmond Park] and play with personality and character and try and pick up three points because it's going to be a really, really difficult game. They have a lot of good players.”