St. Patrick’s Athletic vs. Derry City

Inchicore, tonight, 7:45pm

By Gary Ferry

Kenny Shiels is still hopeful of adding extra experience to his squad before the end of the month as Derry City aim to return to third place this weekend.

Two weeks of Europa League football plus the high of the 4-0 weekend win over Sligo Rovers has put any transfer activity on the back burner, but with so many challenges still ahead, Shiels is hopeful of addressing the burning issue of numbers in his squad.

Shiels has already brought in Eoin Toal, Darren Cole and Jamie McIntyre, but only one of that trio is in any way experienced, with Cole making an impressive debut at centre-half in the weekend win at Maginn Park.

Shiels has given senior debuts to several young talents at the club, including 19-year-old Sam Todd in the second leg against FC Midtjylland last week, and while he is keen to develop the young talent at Derry, he realises that the team is short in other areas.

“We have to mix that with a blend of experience which we haven’t enough of so I was trying to look for more experienced players in the window,” he explained. “We’re still looking because we’re still light but I’m not going over the top about it.

“We learned a lot from Europe and we used the European games for that. Because we hadn’t the players available to compete, we used that as learning and I think that was quite evident in how we played.”

City were as superb as Sligo were poor at Maginn Park on Sunday past as City ended a run of four successive defeats in all competitions. Third place is now the priority for Derry and they could end the weekend back in that favoured spot, with Bray Wanderers up against Cork City and Shamrock Rovers’ game against Limerick postponed due to European commitments.

“I thought the team were magnificent against Sligo,” Shiels continued. “I don’t mind that people were saying how bad Sligo were. I’m happy enough with that sort of press because it takes the focus off us. Sometimes a team is not at their best because the other team is doing well. I’m sure Sligo will have an enquiry into their performance, but they will also acknowledge how good our play was, I’m sure.

“We had a good feel about it beforehand and we spoke about how we were going to approach it. We’re going to try and go to St. Pat’s now and play with the same volume and play the same type of game. That’s what we’re going to try and do.”

City have enjoyed significant success at Richmond Park in recent years with the Candy Stripes hoping to secure their fourth successive win at Inchicore tomorrow night. Third place is the incentive for Derry to secure back to back wins for the first time since March.

“I think we will be happy getting a result so we can look forward to the next game and this is a game that we want to win because it could take us into the top three again,” Shiels added. “Bray are playing Cork and Shamrock Rovers aren’t playing so we could be sitting third after the weekend is over.”

Aaron Barry (hamstring) and Conor McDermott (groin) could miss out again this weekend, but Rory Patterson, who picked up a late knock in the win over Sligo Rovers, should be available for selection.

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