KENNY SHIELS insists the ‘dice is loaded’ in Finn Harps’ favour going into tonight’s north west derby clash at Maginn Park, and, therefore, the Co. Donegal men can no longer hide behind the safety blanket of the underdogs’ tag.
Four points separate fourth placed Derry City and ninth placed Harps while the Candy Stripes have two games in hand over their rivals.
Both teams go into tonight’s sold out clash in Buncrana on the back of two straight defeats. However, given injuries to key men, Shiels reckons Harps go into the game as favourites.
His opposite number thinks otherwise and believes Derry are due to ‘give some team a trouncing’ but Shiels dismissed those suggestions as mind-games.
“I’m not a greenhorn,” said the Derry boss. “I know what his (Horgan’s) motives are there and our boys won’t fall into the trap of being too secure, don’t worry about that.
“If you look at the players he has at his disposal, he can’t come across like that anymore. He’s got players with hundreds of League of Ireland appearances behind them, Barry Molloy, Paddy McCourt, Killian Cantwell, Johnny Bonner, Sean Houston, the list goes on. He’s got Ciaran O’Connor in from Dundalk, he’s got Danny Morrissey from Cork. He’s got loads and loads of experience and quality so I don’t think he can use that anymore.
It will be difficult for them because they’re not used to going in as favourites. If you look at all the circumstances, the dice is loaded in their favour but we have to rise above that.Kenny Shiels
Need to Win
“We dropped five points against Finn Harps last year. We expect a tough game and that’s what derbies bring. We’ll be prepared to play as well as we can, that’s all you can do and give it our best shot.”
City go into the game without Rory Patterson (ankle) and Barry McNamee (hamstring) but Shiels is aware of the importance of returning to winning ways following a disappointing defeat in Cork last weekend.
“It is a really big game because not only is it a derby but it’s one we need to win. They’ve got themselves into a really strong position in the league table and they’ve got so much more experience than us.
“It will be difficult for them because they’re not used to going in as favourites. If you look at all the circumstances, the dice is loaded in their favour but we have to rise above that.
“But for Finn Harps to start as favourites against Derry City it puts a bit of pressure on them that they’re maybe not used to.”
With Maginn Park sold-out once again, has Shiels any concern that Harps fans will outnumber the ‘home’ support given the game takes place in Donegal?
“It’s going to be a full house for most of our home games as you can see. The atmosphere is very good. If we can get a similar atmosphere as we’ve had in the first three it’s going to be good.
“I don’t think because Finn Harps are coming that it’s going to put any more on the gate as it’s a full house anyway.”