Shiels call on fans to get behind Derry's 'working class' heroes
Kenny Shiels has called on Derry City supporters to show up at the Brandywell in their numbers for tonight's Europa League tie against Dinamo Minsk.
The build up to this evening's game has been mired in controversy following a 79% rise in ticket prices, with some fans threatening not to attend the game out of principle.
But Shiels is hoping that, with kick off just hours away, the City faithful will have a change of heart and support the players on the pitch.
Shiels has empathy for the fans who, during Friday night's Premier Division clash with Limerick, unveiled a banner stating 'We are not boycotting, we are just working class' in response to the club's defence over its pricing of adult tickets.
But Shiels' number one concern is his players and he called on fans to back the team by showing up to cheer on the Candystripes in their quest for European success.
"I think the emphasis is the working class aspect of this," he explained.
"The players that we have are all working class. The management is all working class, so we're emphasising that this week because these lads, when they finish the game in their mid or early thirties, they have to readjust.
"They are living amongst our supporters, and they are every bit as working class as the supporters.
"The players here who are representing Derry City are not millionaires.
"They play here because it is their city and they want to make a mark and now they have the opportunity to play against professionals from the Eastern Bloc.
"Derry people are so lucky that they have a professional club on their doorstep and they have players who are working class playing in the same arena that they are going to watch and they are playing with their hearts to do their best."
Shiels knows that his team will be up against it against the Belarusians this evening, but he believes in his players' ability to make it a competitive tie at the Brandywell.
"They are very technical as you would expect and they play through the units and they play long - they have got a mixture of everything," he explained.
"They keep three players up all the time so they will be looking to get goals, certainly away from home.
"They will be playing with adventure to try and get a goal so that they can take it back to their own place.
"They have good quality players. They have got 14 midfielders, 11 of which are over 25 which lends itself to a very experienced team."
City captain Gerard Doherty is, meanwhile, opting to take the tie one leg at a time, insisting that the second leg only becomes important after tonight's game has finished.
"I'm just thinking about this game coming up and that's just taking all my focus," he said.
"It's something different but it's interesting as well, and it's just something that we need to get our heads around and hopefully we can deal with it alright. I'm not too worried about it."
Derry City vs Dinamo Minsk
Europa League 1st Qual Round, 1st Leg
Brandywell Stadium, Tonight, 6pm