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Shiels targets Sligo matches as a season-changer

Derry City v Sligo Rovers: Airtricity Premier League: Brandywell, Tonight, 7.45pm

By Eoin Wilson

A double-header against Sligo Rovers could have significant repercussions for Derry City's season, starting with the league encounter at the Brandywell tonight.

Last week's last gasp win over St. Patrick's Athletic moved the Candy Stripes to within five points of third placed Waterford United, and another victory tonight will increase the pressure on the Blues, who are also being chased by Shamrock Rovers.

On Monday, Derry will then travel to Sligo for the EA League Cup semi-finals, with Shiels hoping to reach his first cup final in his third year in charge at the club.

But for the manager, the next game is always the most important and he is determined to get another three points tonight to continue the momentum built in the past week.

"I think that the support took a lot from last week's game and time will tell but it could be a pivotal turning point in our season." Shiels said.

"Sligo were really unlucky to lose down at Shamrock Rovers and they have brought in a few players including a Canadian winger who is a very good player.

"Sligo are stronger than they were earlier in the season, they are a top six club and they invest for the top six. They are in transition but Gerard has done a great job, they are a top team," Shiels admitted.

Derry have brought in six new signings in the past few weeks, additions which were necessary following a host of departures from the club.

The latest departure is former Coleraine frontman Rory Patterson who has joined Crusaders.

Subject to international clearance, Patterson will be hoping to start the opening match of Crues' Premiership title defence when Ards visit Seaview on Monday.

Shiels, reflecting on how his squad can progress, added: "It really helps in training and around the club to be competitive.

"It is a positive environment where the players have to work hard which is our philosophy. I'd like to think that all my teams are competitive and this is not something we have to create because it always was competitive. The players have given a vibrant reaction and that is something you need."

The sixth signing arrived at the Brandywell only this week. Scottish defender Kevin McHattie, formerly of Hearts and Raith Rovers has signed for the club, although it remains to be seen if he will make his debut tonight.

"I don't think so given the tight timescale but you never know," Shiels said. "He is a left back and can play on the left side as well as centre half.

"From Dean Jarvis we have struggled at left back then we had Jack Doyle but then he had to return to England.

"He is a very good player and he was an Under-21 international, I know him from my time in Scotland and our style of play will suit him. We like to play out from the defensive unit and keep the ball. Young players like Kevin coming from Scotland like to play football and keep the ball so, players like Kevin need an environment like ours. I am very pleased that we can help him."

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