Shiels hop­ing Derry will shake off the rust

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY EOIN WIL­SON

DERRY City re­sume their race for Europa League qual­i­fi­ca­tion this evening af­ter al­most a month on the side­lines.

Kenny Shiels and his play­ers head to rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Gal­way United hop­ing to get back on track af­ter a run of four suc­ces­sive wins was brought to a dev­as­tat­ing halt by suc­ces­sive 4-0 de­feats to cham­pi­ons Dun­dalk in the FAI Cup and the league.

In the 26 days since, Derry have been with­out a com­pet­i­tive fix­ture, hav­ing to make do with friendly games against Bo­hemi­ans, In­sti­tute and Finn Harps, and Shiels ad­mits he does not know what to ex­pect from his play­ers.

“It’s been very dif­fi­cult for ev­ery­body,” he said. “You could call it a month. Time will tell and we’ll know how rusty we’ve got­ten.

“We’re go­ing into the un­known a wee bit against a team who have still been in the FAI Cup and play­ing every week, while we haven’t. It’s not an ex­cuse but it’s a sit­u­a­tion where we will need to be ex­tra in­tel­li­gent.”

In the in­terim, Derry have fallen be­hind Sham­rock Rovers in the race for Europa League qual­i­fi­ca­tion, with one point now the dif­fer­ence be­tween the teams, al­though the Candys­tripes do have one game in hand. They can re­turn to third place with vic­tory tonight though, giv­ing them the edge once again with just five league games left to play.

“With Rovers not play­ing this week­end, it means that if we draw we’re back in third and that’s what we want,” Shiels con­tin­ued. “We want to go there and get some­thing. This game will help us enor­mously if we get some­thing from it be­cause it will bring us back to planet foot­ball again, where we are look­ing to get our com­pet­i­tive fit­ness back.

“I feel and the play­ers feel that we don’t know how good we can be or how poor we can be.”

Three points is also a ne­ces­sity for Gal­way, how­ever, and hav­ing lost at Ea­monn Deacy Park al­ready this sea­son in the League Cup, Shiels knows his play­ers will be se­ri­ously tested this evening.

“They are play­ing for their lives,” he ac­knowl­edged. “We have tough games be­cause we’re play­ing the cur­rent bot­tom five in our last five games. They are of­ten harder fix­tures be­cause when it comes to sort­ing out time in the sea­son then it be­comes more im­por­tant to teams still in that zone.”

There will be late fit­ness tests for de­fend­ers Conor McDer­mott (hip) and Dean Jarvis (leg) be­fore tonight’s game.

Back at it: Kenny Shiels’ Derry re­turn to com­pet­i­tive ac­tion

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