Title chasers Derry City welcome Martin Russell’s UCD to the Brandywell on Friday evening, kick off at 7.45pm.
Derry are unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions and will be hoping to extend that run over a UCD side who will be missing up to five players. UCD’s victory over Drogheda last week has opened up a gap over the Louth side but Martin Russell will know he can take nothing for granted. In the previous meeting this season at the Brandywell, Derry scored 6 past Ger Barron and with captain Mick Leahy missing through suspension, the Students might be fearing a similar result. They were beaten by the same score last week in their cup replay against Shamrock Rovers but we all know that such results don’t knock the confidence of UCD’s young side as they have showed great character in recent weeks to come from the dead.
It will be a very tough task to get anything at Derry considering the absentees and that Stephen Kenny’s men have only conceded three goals all season at the Brandywell. While Derry have to concentrate on their own matters, some of their attention will be on the top of the table clash in Tallaght between Shamrock Rovers and Sligo but Stephen Kenny knows his players must be focused on their own game.
“It is irrelevant to us what happens in Dublin. I can understand people’s interest in that game, but UCD have shown that if you’re off your game they can punish you so we have to remain focused. Our ambition is to get another victory and to do that we must be decisive and show our hunger.”
In terms of injury news, Derry have only one absentee. Gareth McGlynn is out injured with an ankle injury but Martin Russell’s problems are a lot bigger. As mentioned he will be without Mick Leahy for the trip North, Leahy will join Sean Harding (groin), Danny Ledwith (ill), Ciaran Nangle (shin) and Cillian Morrison (hip flexor) in the stands.
Manager Martin Russell has admitted that his side will be underdogs but is confident they can pull off a shock.
“We’ve been on the end of one or two heavy defeats this year, including one at the Brandywell earlier this season and responded well so we will look for that again this Friday. Derry have impressed everyone this season with how they have adapted to the premier division. They have good players and a good blend of youth and experience so it hasn’t surprised me how well they have done. However we certainly will not be coming up to Derry to lie down.”
Despite Russell’s fighting talk, I can’t see past a home victory and with so much at stake at this stage of the season.