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Fired-up Candystripes aim to get back on track

By Eoin Wilson

It remains to be seen if Ronan Curtis will feature against St Patrick's Athletic tonight just days after agreeing a deal with League One side Portsmouth.

The 22-year-old was in England this week to finalise the details of the move, but he remains a Derry City player until June 8, leaving him eligible for the next few games for the Candystripes.

It will be a significant loss for Derry City, with Curtis one of the success stories of Kenny Shiels' time at the club.

Curtis has scored seven goals this season already and would be a huge boost for Shiels, who is hoping his team can recover from Monday's humbling 4-1 home defeat at the hands of leaders Dundalk.

Despite defeating St Pat's 2-1 at the Brandywell earlier this season, Shiels knows his team will be up against it in Inchicore, with Liam Buckley's side showing a remarkable improvement in recent weeks.

"They are up level with us and it will be a very difficult game because we know the players they have and how well they have done," Shiels agreed.

"They have been the best team in the last few weeks and they have got a lot of points on the board so it will be tough."

St Pat's defeated Sligo Rovers 2-0 in midweek to move level on points with the Candystripes - who are fourth - and after playing Cork City and Dundalk in quick succession, Shiels believes the new format of the Airtricity League makes it much more competitive this season.

"In a 10-team league every game is a six-pointer because you're playing everybody so often," he said.

"You can be in the top four and then in the bottom four just with a couple of defeats.

"We have had a tough few games recently and we just want to get back to some normality and try and have some sort of influence in this game and get a performance and a result.

"If we play the way we did in the first half hour against Dundalk and the 90 minutes against Cork City we'll be happy with that."

City fans will have their fingers crossed that the club can tie midfielder Nicky Low to a contract.

The Scot, on loan from Dundee, was released by the Scottish Premier League club this week and is now a free agent. Low has scored three goals this season and is a valued member of Shiels' squad.

"We're speaking to Nicky Low's representative at the moment and we're trying to get an extension to his contract," Shiels confirmed.

Meanwhile Dundalk boss - and former Derry chief - Stephen Kenny was impressed with the new-look Brandywell Stadium.

"It's a very modern stadium now. Looking at the Southend Park stand it actually looks terrific with the pitch close to it," he said.

"And obviously the Mark Farren stand is very poignant. The likes of Philip O'Doherty on the board, they probably understand that getting a new stadium is worth more than winning the league title. It's a legacy and you have to give credit to them for that."

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