CORK City manager John Caulfield has dismissed suggestions that Derry City are a work in progress, insisting Kenny Shiels has a much more settled side than his.
The Rebels boss, who has made seven new additions to the side which finished runners-up last year, is looking forward to taking his new-look squad to Brandywell tomorrow night as he seeks a third successive win this season.
Cork secured a morale-boosting President’s Cup win over Dundalk before getting their league campaign off to a winning start with a home victory over Bohemians last weekend.
And, despite defeat to Finn Harps last weekend, Caulfield expects to see a much improved Derry City performance in front of an expected big crowd at Brandywell.
“Derry are strong in defence with the experienced Ger Doherty in goal,” said Caulfield. “They have Ryan McBride, Aaron Barry and Dean Jarvis at the heart of it.
“They still have talented footballers, too, like Barry McNamee and Conor McCormack, from St Pat’s, while Aaron McEneff is back from Tottenham and Gareth McGlynn is back from the USA.
“Rory Patterson is back for another stint at the Brandywell, too, and he’s joined by Jordan Allen from Glasgow.
“Listen, they probably have a more settled side than we do given our seven new additions this year,” said the Cork boss.
“Derry have a lot of energy in their team and, after the heavy conditions at Finn Park and the local derby, I expect Derry will get back to their passing game tonight.
“We will have to play to our best to get a result, that’s for sure,” he added.
Despite the long rocky road to Derry from Cork and the fact the team bus isn’t likely to return home until 6 a.m. on Saturday, Caulfield claims the journey will be the perfect team building exercise.
“The long haul trip to Derry is not an issue for us and we will use it as another bonding session for the players in that we have an overnight before the game.
“The hardest part of it is the coach trip home as we won’t get back until six in the morning. The long trips never really bothered me as a player and it’s something I look forward to in a way,” said Caulfield.
On the injury front, Gary Buckley still has a bit of swelling in and around the knee and didn’t train at all during the week.
Irish U21 call up Kevin O’Connor has recovered from a knock and is added to the squad.
“It’s hard to envisage making too many changes to a winning team even though competition for places is fierce. I’d be slow to make too many changes tonight,” added Caulfield. “We have a report on Derry and Kenny Shiels has come in as manager and we are expecting a tough match, especially, after Derry were beaten by Finn Harps. They will want to get right back on track. Derry is similar to Cork. They are passionate about their football and it’s a great venue to play football.”