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Kenny Shiels gears Derry City up for make or break battles

By Eoin Wilson

Published 23/09/2016

Promised land: Kenny Shiels’s side are closing in on a European place
Promised land: Kenny Shiels’s side are closing in on a European place

Kenny Shiels is targeting six points from the next two games to all but secure Derry City’s place in the top four this season.

The Candystripes face league champions Dundalk at Oriel Park this evening before moving into Tuesday and a date with Shamrock Rovers. With just two points separating the two European hopefuls, the result of that game at the Brandywell is crucial — even more so if City lose this evening.

But Shiels is always optimistic and sees no reason why his team can’t prevail not just tonight, but also against Rovers.

“It’s wrong to isolate games but I think if we could win the next two league games, we would qualify for fourth positon, more or less,” Shiels said.

“There’s a 12-point gap and a vastly superior goal difference between ourselves and Sligo in fifth, so if we were to win those two games, there could be a 15 point gap, with four or five games left to play.

“You shouldn’t group games like that however. We will look at how we will win our next one, but next Tuesday’s game’s so vital to our league position.”

The last time Derry met Dundalk, they suffered their heaviest defeat on home soil, a 5-0 reverse in front of the Brandywell fans.

Before that, however, City secured a commendable 1-1 draw at Oriel back in April and Shiels insists his team has proved itself against the best time and again this campaign.

“We’ve taken points off every team in the league, Dundalk included and we got here with an expectation to bring something back,” he said. “We don’t go to set up to contain, we go to be inventive and creative and attack-minded.

“I see it as a big challenge now to go and do our best to win the game. It’s a big ask but we’re well equipped and we have a good team. We have lost key players through injury during July and August and now into September, we’ve been missing key players at the back, but we’ve filled those holes quite well.

“We still have that energy about us. Four of the players who were playing with the under-19s in February were in the squad last Friday night and three of them were on the pitch, and that gives you good feelings.”

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