Shamrock Rovers are the benchmark - insists Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins
Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins believes his side is facing the best team in the country tomorrow night when champions Shamrock Rovers visit the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.
The Limavady man watched the Hoops defeat Slovan Bratislava at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday and although Stephen Bradley’s men were knocked out of the Champions League, losing 3-2 on aggregate, Higgins felt the Dubliners did more then enough to take the tie into extra-time.
He also believes that the understrength Hoops, who will be without trio Sean Hoare, Chris McCann and Neil Farrugia, are still the best team in the country regardless what team they field.
“I was at the game and I felt they deserved to go to at least extra-time, they were excellent on the night against a really good team, but that didn’t surprise me because of the quality that they have at their disposal,” he insisted.
“I know they have played Tuesday night, but confidence will be high because of the performance they put in. They have also got numerous options to bring in that doesn’t weaken their team, so we know no matter what team takes the pitch they are the best team in the country.
“When you look at a bench of Aaron Greene, Dylan Watts, Sean Gannon and Sean Hoare the list goes on, then they have a fairly deep squad with lots of quality.”
Higgins confirmed that striker Jamie McGonigle is available for selection after the Dungiven man missed last week’s loss at St Patrick’s Athletic, but winger Marc Walsh is still sidelined with a hamstring problem.
“Jamie has trained this morning (Thursday), he did the full session, so he’s fine; but Marc Walsh is the only long term absentee,” confirmed the Derry boss.
The former Dundalk assistant manager, who wants the home support to play their part Rovers, watched his side defeat Waterford to secure their first league win at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium this season in their last home game a few weeks ago and the attendance is expected to be around the 500 mark once again tonight.
“The fans have been brilliant, considering the amount of numbers that we have had in the Brandywell it has felt that there has been more with the noise they have made and they have really got behind the team,” he added.
“I think they can identify with the team and we want to make our supporters proud and we want them to see that the bare minimum the players are giving absolutely everything and I can’t question that at all at this minute in time.
”It’s really important and they have been brilliant, considering the amount of numbers that we have had in the Brandywell it has felt that there has been more with the noise they have made and they have really got behind the team.
“I think they can identify with the team and we want to make our supporters proud and we want them to see that the bare minimum the players are giving absolutely everything and I can’t question that at all at this minute in time.”
The 36-year-old also confirmed that there has been no movement in terms of David Parkhouse leaving the club or Patrick McEleney or Aaron McCarey joining the Candy Stripes and admits talking about transfer speculation can be tiresome.
“There’s zero incomings and outgoings and there’s nothing to report at the minute,” he said.
“We’ll see what develops, there’s still half of the month to go and we’ll see what happens, but there’s no developments really from the last time we spoke.
“I think in a transfer window it’s natural, yes it can be a bit of a pain but it’s nothing that I don’t expect and I treat every player here with respect and they are all brilliant people and they all know where they stand with me.
“I try to be as honest and respectful to every individual within the squad whether they are in my plans or not in my plans.”