It might be a little premature to write off Derry City’s chances in the League of Ireland Premier Division if they were to lose to league leaders Bohemians at the Brandywell tonight (7.45pm).
But such an outcome would leave them languishing eight points behind the Dubliners and even with almost two-thirds of the season remaining, that would be a mountain to climb.
Neither manager would be happy to settle for a point. Bohs boss Pat Fenlon senses an opportunity to potentially remove a threat while Stephen Kenny needs to take the chance to reduce the deficit.
Kenny has been sending out mixed messages over the fitness of key midfielder Ciaran Martyn, the club’s joint leading scorer, who along with Mark Farren has four in the campaign to date.
Early in the week he indicated that a knock he picked up in last weekend’s win over bottom side Drogheda wasn’t serious. But he later rated Martyn’s chances of playing this evening as doubtful.
Central defender Peter Hutton (pictured right) damaged a shoulder in the 3-0 win over Drogheda but should make the starting line-up this evening, although Clive Delaney and Gareth McGlynn remain long-term injury victims, both suffering from hamstring strains.
Farren returned to welcome goalscoring form for City with his hat-trick last week in Drogheda. They were his first goals since the opening week of the season — strangely enough, also against the Drogs.
He, like all the starting line-up from that match, were rested as Derry’s hold on the EA Sports League Cup was finally released after a four-year reign in midweek with the 1-0 defeat in Galway. Fenlon, though, intends playing defender Jason McGuinness this evening before the five-match ban he has been handed for racial abuse begins.
McGuinness will be out for over a month after being found guilty of racial abuse towards Sligo player Romauld Boco in a league match earlier this season.
The club had previously banned the player for a week and fined him and this, along with the apologies he offered both to Boco and Sligo Rovers officials on the night in question, appears to have been taken into account by the FAI’s disciplinary committee which handed down the most lenient punishment allowed under the rules.
The ban still means McGuinness will be sidelined for around a month of Bohemians’ title defence and Fenlon will have to cope without the player for a number of high-profile games including important trips to Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic as well as, fittingly, the visit of Sligo Rovers next month.