Crozier's relief as Doherty returns for Derry
Derry manager Paddy Crozier is certain to have the red carpet out for long-serving midfield ace Fergal Doherty this weekend.
Bellaghy clubman Doherty missed last weekend's demoralising defeat by Galway as Derry faltered in their bid to reach the National League final and it was abundantly clear just why they found themselves playing second fiddle to the Tribesman.
The towering displays of Barry Cullinane and Niall Coleman at midfield laid the platform for the westerners' victory and now Crozier is keen to see the abrasive Doherty, who was at a wedding over the weekend, back in the frame for Saturday's floodlit showdown with Tyrone at Celtic Park (7pm).
Derry went into the game against Galway with three wins to their credit but conceded three goals - this despite a superlative performance from custodian John Deighan - and, almost incredibly, found Paddy Bradley held scoreless.
"We knew if we won against Galway we would be taking pressure off ourselves but now we have a chance to put things right against Tyrone," says Derry boss Crozier.
And while Derry have been given considerable food for thought, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has called for a repeat of the effort that marked his team's two-point win over Donegal.
"Going to Derry is never easy but if we can build on the grit and resilience we showed against Donegal, I think we might just get ourselves to safety," said Harte.
Colin Holmes and Enda McGinley look certain to man the midfield again for the Red Hands while Colm McCullagh may return to the side having missed last Sunday's game after his wife went into labour.
A Tyrone win could conceivably hoist them into the top half of the table although Kerry and Donegal are expected to improve their own standings when they meet Mayo and Laois respectively.
Even at this stage, though, it still looks like Ulster will have three sides - Tyrone, Derry and Donegal - in the top bracket next term unless the last three rounds of the league provide a huge ration of turbulence.