Declan Devine may have led his side to an impressive run of form in recent weeks, but is more than aware that his side muse continue to perform in front of their home support if they are to preserve their early season promise, starting with the visit of Shamrock Rovers this Friday.
City came from behind last week to defeat Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk, but with Rovers have put even past Bray on Friday, Devine is more than aware of the threat posed by the visitors.
Speaking to Cityweb, the manager outlined his thoughts on the challenge tomorrow night
“We know that this is going to be a very difficult game against a very good side, Trevor has brought together some of the best players in the country and after the great result last weekend they will be full of confidence. Between both sides we have only conceded six goals so I fully expect a tight game. We know we must show Shamrock Rovers respect but with the start we have made we have set a benchmark for ourselves and our goal must be to improve on that game after game.”
Indeed City have lit up the division with their scoring so far this season, but the defence has only conceded three goals so far this season. Indeed Dundalk’s opener last week was the first goal that the City rearguard had conceded in over 490 minutes of football. It was a disappointing night for the Derry defence who saw Shane McEleney receive a straight red card for an innocuous challenge on Tiarnan Mulvenna. The defender misses the game through suspension and Devine must decide whether to deploy Barry Molloy as a centre half or to promote Dermot McCaffrey from the bench to deputise at centre half. Whilst neither are ideal options, McCaffrey has spent time in the role whilst at Dungannon Swifts, whilst Molloy has filled in on a number of occasions in the position.
Further up the field Devine is still missing Kevin Deery and Sean Houston. Indeed the manager received bad news this week that Kevin Deery’s strain has failed to improve and the midfielder must receive a second opinion, with the feeling that the player may indeed require an operation on the injury. Sean Houston and Stewart Greacen remain on the long term absentee list and Devine has managed to plan successfully without them in recent times.
The visitors are missing Ken Oman and Jason McGuinness so despite the large squad available to Croly, he will be missing two vastly experienced centre halfs for the trip North. The new manager was under increasing pressure due to the disappointing start made by the Hoops, and whilst the 7-0 home win last week was welcomed, this was tempered by a home draw against Cork in the Setanta Sports Cup earlier in the week.
Rovers have seen the likes of new signings Ledwith and Quigley gradually find their feet, and the likes of Conor Powell appear to be on the way to regaining his best form. However whereas Devine has the enviable task of both Patterson and Rafter finding their form early up front, Croly has seen his strikers rather goal shy to date, with the leading goalscorer Ronan Finn, the midfielder.
Tickets are available at all usual outlets(see Cityweb for details). The game will also be covered on Drive105 and BBC Radio Foyle for those that can’t make the fixture.