IT promises to be a raw and emotional night on Leeside when Derry City come to town for a top of-the-table televised clash with Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Friday at 7.30pm.
The Candystripes have only recently lost their skipper and warrior the late Ryan McBride, while City’s duo of Stephen Dooley and Conor McCormack would have played with the Brandywell legend and shared a dressing room with him.
Derry fought back to 2-2 against Bray at McGinn Park only to lose 3-2 to an added time goal over the weekend but it was a costly night, injury-wise, for manager Kenny Shiels.
Goalkeeper Ger Doherty limped off at half-time with a sprained ankle to be replaced by Cork man, Eric Grimes and Rory Patterson had to be substituted after 31 minutes with a re-occurrence of a calf injury and both are rated ‘doubtful’ for Friday’s big encounter at the Curragh Road.
Derry went with a 3-5-2 formation against Bray with Conor McDermott, Aaron Barry and Dean Jarvis as the back three and the two wing-backs were Ronan Curtis and Lukas Schubert with Dundee’s Nicky Low, Barry McNamee and Aaron McEneff in central midfield.
Patterson and Ethan Boyle were the two attackers but Rory Holden or Ben Doherty could come in for Patterson in Cork.
One man eagerly looking forward to the game is City’s midfielder Garry Buckley who was among the goals in the 3-0 away win at the Markets Field in Limerick.
“I was due a goal and playing in that position and being a midfielder, I always want to score goals and it’s good to see Gearoid Morrissey popping in a few goals as well. We can get goals from all over the park and we can’t be relying on Seanie (Maguire) every week even though he’s on fire.
"Once you are in the team now you have to play well to stay in and you can see lads like Steven Beattie, Greg Bolger and Johnny Dunleavy all trying to get back in and that shows the unbelievable quality in the squad this season,” said Buckley.
“We have players on the bench these days that could play with any club in the league and we are working towards a settled team. The bottom line is that you have to be on your game or, otherwise, you could be out of the side. It’s good, healthy competition and that’s the way we want it going forward.
“The Limerick match had the ‘feel’ of a Munster derby and our supporters were fantastic again and they are a credit to the football club with their singing and their vocal support. I just hope they keep it up because it’s a boost for us when we run out on to the pitch and having them there, home or away, really pushing us on that bit extra,” he said.
“We have a confidence in the team now with seven straight wins, but winning is a habit, and Friday night up against Derry City will be another big test. We are solid at the back and producing clean sheets and we can score goals from right across the team and with Seanie Maguire in such devastating form, we always have a chance.
“We know we can beat anyone, home or away, and we’d hope to keep our winning run going now this weekend. We are a bit more ruthless these days and we are grinding out the results when we have to but we seem to be making good starts in matches and scoring early goals.
"We were under the cosh a bit up at Rovers but we sat in that night, played the conditions and we got the away win we wanted. We are able to do the right things to win games and long may that continue,” he added.