DECLAN Devine has promised not to hold anything back in the FAI Cup this season and plans to field an attack-minded team against First Division strugglers, Wexford Youths tonight.
The Derry City boss reckons the first round tie is a ‘free hit’ for Wexford, who come into the game on the back of a 13 match winless run. However, he is confident there will be no complacency creeping into play.
Having already booked their place in the EA Sports Cup Final this year, Devine pointed out that the club are just three games away from another should they dispatch of Wexford.
That’s the incentive and Devine wants his players to do it in style and adopt the same high energy and attacking verve displayed in recent games.
“It’s an opportunity to show our fans we’re a good side,” said the City boss. “We’ve prepared really well and the players are really focused on getting to the next round of the cup.
“If you win this game you are three games away from the Aviva and that, on its own, has to be the goal. We will respect the opposition but we’ll concentrate on ourselves and make sure we’re determined to get into the hat for the next round.
“To be fair to this bunch, they haven’t been complacent all year so it would be quite frustrating if we were to become complacent now.
“There’s a cup game to be won and we have to make sure we’re at our best. If we’re not then people will be brought off and others will be put on who have a point to prove.
“We’re lining out with a very strong squad and there will be no complacency from the staff or players,” he insisted. “I fully trust them and believe this is a game we want to keep our home record going. We have a big game against Shamrock Rovers next week and want to go into that game with the same confidence we have at the minute.
“We’re at a stage where I think it’s got to come down to elite performances. Average performances aren’t good enough anymore if you want to be at the business end of winning cups and qualifying for Europe. It has to be the top level of football.
“The team we put on the pitch tomorrow night will be a very strong team. There’s a real goal threat in the team we’re going to play but ultimately you have to make sure your focus is right.”
Devine was involved in the coaching staff under Stephen Kenny when Wexford dumped City out of the FAI Cup at the third round stage in 2011 at Ferrycarrig Park. He also avoided a cup shock during his last managerial stint as the then holders edged past non-league side, Bluebell United after a replay in Dublin.
And Ashtown Villa from Dublin’s northside of course proved at Brandywell in 1991 that even non-league sides can take a major scalp in the FAI’s Blue Riband competition.
However, Devine doesn’t doubt his side’s mental focus ahead of the tie and with so many players chomping at the bit to force their way into his plans, he expects a top performance.
“Everyone is showing me the right things in training on a daily basis,” he said.
“There’s competition for places. Everyone gets an opportunity and it’s up to them to grasp it.
“Between now and the next 10 weeks the squad has a chance to do something special and if we can do that then we’ll have memories for the rest of our lives.
“We have a big tradition in the cup here and we want that to continue. We have had them watched and done video analysis on Wexford.
“It’s a free hit for them coming here. They will come with absolutely no expectations but at the same time looking to cause a huge shock.
“We’ve been very good up until this point and you certainly don’t want any surprises happening that could potentially have a knock-on effect for the rest of the season.
“This club has had big shocks in the past in terms of Ashtown Villa and we certainly don’t want that happening to us at home and taking away all the good work we’ve done. Anything can happen in the cup and we’ve got to make sure we’re not on the end of a huge surprise.”