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Home gains: Declan Devine is fired up for Derry’s return

Home gains: Declan Devine is fired up for Derry’s return

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Home gains: Declan Devine is fired up for Derry’s return

Derry City are back in league action this evening after five months without a game and boss Declan Devine is hoping that his team can hit the ground running.

The Candystripes have not played a competitive match since losing 2-1 at Waterford back on March 6, since when football has changed significantly the world over.

The Brandywell will be without fans for this evening's game against bottom-of-the-table Sligo Rovers, but that does not take away from the significance of the three points on offer for Devine and his players.

"We're nothing without our supporters and we need every single person pulling in the same direction," the manager said.

"The support we've received since we came in has been incredible. The players understand that every single Derry City supporter will be watching our performances. The players understand that all their families will be watching their performances. There is nobody taking their eye off the ball here.

"We understand that when we take to that pitch on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night, the eyes are going to be on us.

"Yes, we're going to miss that support from the twelfth man and the noise, but we have to understand that these people are paying money to sit in the house and get behind a team that will work hard for each other and foe the people of this city."

New signings James Akintune, Jake Dunwoody, Ibrahim Meite, Joe Thompson and Adam Hammill are all in line to make their debuts for a City side that has some ground to make up in the table, having won just one of four league games back in February and March.

There is, however, also the FAI Cup and the Europa League to look forward to, meaning that the 2020 season could still be remembered for something other than the Covid-19 break.

"We've worked extremely hard last year to get into a position where we could grow this year, where we could play European football," Devine stated.

"Last year, no-one gave us a chance of qualifying for Europe having finished eighth the previous year. No-one gave us a chance of taking Dundalk as close as we took them in all the games that we played.

"Being underestimated at times sometimes works in our favour. We are working so hard behind the scenes to make sure that we have a product on the pitch that is not only aggressive in its approach and in its desire to win football matches, but is also entertaining with plenty of goals.

"Last year we scored as many goals as anyone else in the league, we were on the front foot, we worked hard for each other and that doesn't change.

"The schedule has been halved but there are still a lot of big games. There will be twists and turns highs and lows, everyone feels that they can push right up that table, and we're no different."

l DOLLINGSTOWN won the McComb's Coach Travel Intermediate Cup after defeating Newington 2-0 in last night's final thanks to goals from Gary Liggett and Johnny Kernaghan.

Derry City

Sligo Rovers

SSE Airtricity Premier Division

Brandywell, Tonight, 5.45pm

Belfast Telegraph