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Derry must go in with clean slate to bolster top-four bid: Devine

Derry City v St Pat's Ath, SSE Airtricity Premier Division, The Brandywell, Tonight, 7.45pm

Rallying call: Declan Devine wants his boys to forget their last triumph over St Pat’s ahead of Brandywell duel
Rallying call: Declan Devine wants his boys to forget their last triumph over St Pat’s ahead of Brandywell duel

By Eoin Wilson

Derry City have the chance to extend the gap between themselves and St Patrick's Athletic when the two teams meet at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium this evening.

Declan Devine's Candystripes continued their impressive form to date this season when they came from 2-0 down to gain a point at champions Dundalk last week, and a victory this evening would strengthen their place in the top four in the form of a seven-point gap over tonight's opponents.

City defeated St Pat's 3-1 at Inchicore last month thanks to a really impressive performance, but Devine believes that will have no bearing on tonight's game.

"It will be a very tough game again," he said.

"Without sounding repetitive, this 10-team league is fascinating in many ways because you have to be really up for every game and you have got to make sure that every game is treated with the utmost respect.

"I've a lot of time for Harry (Kenny), I think he has built a good team and I have no doubt that they will strive to get stronger as the season goes on.

"They have fantastic players, they play a formation that is difficult to deal with and, to be honest, the last game down in Inchicore is completely irrelevant to what will take place on Friday night because they are coming here in good form.

"Even though they lost their last game, they have taken a few big scalps in recent weeks."

St Pat's have struggled for consistency so far this season, but Devine believes that the Dubliners remain a significant threat on their day.

"They were in a period of games where they won five out of six, and if they can do that in this league then you have to have something about you," explained the Candystripes chief.

"It's definitely a game that we have to approach in the right frame of mind.

"We've had a few days off, and hopefully the players are feeling fresher, but for us it's another opportunity to play in front of our home fans."

Devine has a near fully fit squad to choose from tonight with Aidy Delap in line for his Brandywell return after missing six games through injury.

City, meanwhile, have been given a boost with the news that Michael McCrudden could be back in action within the next few weeks.

The prolific 27-year-old forward had been driven and determined to make an immediate impact at the club after joining from Danske Bank Premiership side Institute back in February, but frustatingly he has been limited to just three appearances for the Candystripes so far after suffering a broken metatarsal in training in early March, which has kept him out of action since.

But the striker, who hit 19 goals for 'Stute on their return to the top flight in the Irish League, has this week had his plaster removed and should be in line to return to training soon.

"We have to make sure that we are fresh," Devine concluded.

"I have to say that our fitness levels are very high. The way that we are finishing games is something that I'm extremely proud of and the application the players are putting into wearing that jersey has been super so far this campaign."

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