Derry City manager Kenny Shiels feels his side are on their way back as they prepare for Saturday night’s clash at Sligo Rovers (K.O. 7.45pm).
The ‘Candy Stripes’ have suffered four defeats in a row, but he felt there was encouraging signs following their midweek EA Sports Cup defeat at Galway United.
“I feel we are on our way back and that’s borne out after Monday night’s performance, I thought we did very well,” he said.
“On Monday night we showed more interaction and more understanding at what we are about and I thought they did really well and with a little bit of fortune we could have won the game, so it’s a movement in the right direction.”
The Derry gaffer also believes his side’s lack of experience in recent weeks hasn’t help.
“Everyone is going on about the loss of Ryan (McBride), which is a very big loss, but they forget about the significant loss of our other experienced players,” he added.
There’s a massive imbalance in the ages where we don’t have enough. You can’t legislate to lose your three senior players in one fell swoop, which happened to us and it left us without leadership.Kenny Shiels
“We lost Gerard (Doherty) for half a match, we lost Barry McNamee and Rory Patterson; those are key features of the team because the age balance is not right.
“There’s a massive imbalance in the ages where we don’t have enough. You can’t legislate to lose your three senior players in one fell swoop, which happened to us and it left us without leadership.
“We have so many young boys and it has put us in a difficult situation.”
City have conceded 10 goals during their terrible run of defeats and, worryingly, they have only scored twice in those four games. However, Shiels’ squad has been working on both aspects in training.
“We are looking at trying to keep a clean-sheet, we are looking at trying to score goals as well,” he added.“There’s two key features, how you defend and how you attack.
“If you look at Juventus on Wednesday night, the way they defend in numbers; that can’t be us because it’s not how we play the game over here.
“So we have got to try and attack and also defend as we attack. And if we can do that we have got a chance.”
Rovers, who still have former Derry goalkeeping coach Declan McIntyre as temporary charge after Dave Robertson’s sacking, are unbeaten in their last three games at the Showgrounds and a victory for the home side would move them to just one point behind City.
“Sligo are very, very good at home,” added Shiels.
“They have got good players, but we have to look at us, that’s were we are at now, we have to look at ourselves.
“We don’t look behind, we look in front and we have to try and win to get into a challenging position in the top six, that’s where we have to be, that’s where we want to be and that’s where we expect to be.”
Dean Jarvis, Conor McDermott, Harry Monaghan and Lukas Schubert are all struggling after missing training on Thursday, but on the plus side McNamee is back running and may return for the encounter.
“Barry ran today (Thursday), but if he plays on Saturday then he may miss Tuesday’s game (against Limerick), so we’ll have to weight it up and see,” stated Shiels.