After the postponement of their games against Limerick and Galway United – now rescheduled for Maginn Park on April 25 and Eamonn Deacy Park on May 8, respectively - Derry’s return to action sees them hosting Bray in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division.
And, as the home side look to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign, manager Kenny Shiels has drawn attention to the fact five – the shirt worn by McBride – is their magic number this evening.
“We’re going into the game having won four games this season out of four which is a good stat to have and we’d like to that make that five,” he said. “It’s the number 5 and it’s our fifth game and five has been very dominant in our thoughts.”
Club stalwart Ger Doherty takes over the captain’s armband with the ambition of doing justice to the inspiration and leadership of his predecessor.
“It’s something that’s happened for a crazy, terrible reason but it’s something I’m going to embrace. I was in two minds what to do and how to feel. I’m just going to try and step up and hopefully be as good as captain as Ryan.”
On the difficult challenge which tonight presents for all concerned, he told the
“At the back of the boys’ minds we’ll want to do it for Ryan, but then we have to treat each game just like any other. First and foremost, if every player has the attitude they just go out and perform for themselves, everything else will just fall into place.
“Ryan was a big person, not just on the pitch, but around the place too. Before games, things will be different. Travelling to away games, he sat behind me on the bus and that will be different. Everything is going to be different now - it’s just how we deal with it.”
This evening, Dean Jarvis and Aaron Barry form the central defensive partnership for Derry, who also have striker Rory Patterson and full-back Ben Doherty available for a match against a fifth-placed Bray side arriving on Foyleside having lost two on the spin.
Ryan McBride’s last performance for his hometown club was in the 4-0 win over Drogheda United which maintained the Candystripes’ 100% record, though the postponement of their following two fixtures means Cork City – who face Limerick at the Market’s Field this evening – hold a six-point advantage at the top ahead of tonight’s round of games.
At Oriel Park (7.30pm), champions Dundalk, beaten 2-1 by Cork last time out, will be looking to bounce back in the Louth derby against a Drogheda United side on a four-game losing streak, while there’s another derby, this time in Dublin, as Bohemians take on St Patrick’s Athletic at Dalymount Park.
In tonight’s other Premier Division games, Shamrock Rovers host Finn Harps in Tallaght (8pm). “We need to win,” admits Rovers boss Stephen Bradley. “We’ve got to react, not change the way we’ve been playing because we’ve been really good but change the goals we’re giving away, change the sloppy mistakes, we need to obviously rectify that, but not change too much of how we’ve been playing because we’ve been playing well.”
Bottom of the table Galway United are at home to Sligo Rovers.
Meanwhile, in the First Division, Athlone Town welcome Cabinteely to the Athlone Town Stadium and Shelbourne host Wexford at Tolka Park. Tomorrow night Cobh host UCD (St Colman’s Park, 7.15pm) while Longford host Waterford (7.30pm).
Unless otherwise indicated, tonight’s games kick off at 7.45.