City of Derry Head Coach Mark Nicholl will rotate his squad for tomorrow’s Ulster Senior League clash with Queen’s in Belfast.
The Judges Road men are definitely without captain David Funston (groin), Stephen Ferguson and Stephen Dickey who are all on the injured list but Nicholl is also looking to offer a number of players the chance to push for a place in the First XV ahead of a big month for the locals.
A crucial few weeks for Derry begins with next weekend’s Ulster Senior Cup semi-final against Ballynahinch and includes AIL fixtures against Old Crescent, Bruff and Queen’s before a potential Senior Cup Final appearance should Derry make it. With that in mind, Derry will bring in a number of players who have been pressing for starts as he looks to keep his squad fresh.
“We have a few injuries and a few players in need of a rest but this is an opportunity for others to stake their claim,” explained the Derry coach, “We will mix up the back row and probably have a totally new back line but the players coming in are capable of getting a result. This is going to be a big month for the squad with some big games but we have to players to cope with it.”
Nicholl admitted the players had been left disappointed by last week’s AIL draw in Bective.
“We didn’t get going at all early on last week but the players fought back well. It was still very flat in the dressing room afterwards but it was also a valuable lesson that if you don’t perform at the top of your game, there are teams in this league that can hurt you. Our defence let us down early on last week but we will learn the lesson and improve,” he added.