Derry City focus on attack for FK Riteriai clash

Derry City's Adam Hammill celebrates his first goal at the Brandywell on Friday August 21 2020 against Cork City. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin.
Seamus Crudden

Derry City manager Declan Devine wants his attacking-minded players to really go out and express themselves in tonight's Europa League clash at FK Riteriai (KO 5pm).

Since the restart new signings James Akintunde, Ibrahim Meite and Adam Hammill have really started to blossom, while Walter Figueira and Stephen Mallon have been a handful throughout this season, so Devine wants those players in the attacking third to get at the Lithuanian's.

"We have really good players at the football club and I think you see in the attacking options that we have brought to the club in the recent window are top quality," he insisted.

"I think Adam Hammill was sensational the other night against Cork City, I thought Ibrahim Meite, James Akinrunde and Walter Figueira were excellent and I thought Jake Dunwoody coming on too also did well.

"We want our subs to come on and make an impression and our squad to make an impression in every game."

City know victory in Vilnius tonight would guarantee them just over €200,000, but Devine wants his players just to focus on trying to go down on Candy Stripes folklore.

"Our recent history as a club in Europe bar the Aberystwyth game, I don't think we have progressed through any rounds since maybe 2006 and 2007, so we want to be the standard-bearers," he admitted.

"We want to be the team that people reflect on in 10 or 12 years' time and talk about this side having a brilliant run in Europe, yes it's going to be difficult, but such is life."

Despite only winning three times in 18 games all competitions this season, Devine feels Riteriai will cause his side problems and he wants all his squad to be ready as they could make the difference in this 'winner takes all' tie.

"People shouldn't get caught up on their league position, because they are a good side and we'll have to be at our best to win the game," he confirmed.

"They have top players in (Angel) Lezama, (Laja) Traore and (Donatas) Kazlauskas and they like to get a lot of bodies into the box.

"We have real competition for places. Look whenever you see Gerardo Bruna not making the bench against Cork City it shows you what we are about.

"There's competition for places now and we can replace like for like, for instance we brought James Akintunde on against Cork and he scores a fantastic goal. We also brought Stevie Mallon and Ciaron Harkin on, real top, top players.

"Look it's always what we have always wanted to do at this club and that's making sure there's competition for places and at the end of the day it's a very quick season this year.

"We are going to have to keep rotating our squad and because of that I back all my players in the squad and they are more than capable of going out to Lithuanian and getting a good result."

And one man who's getting his first taste of European football is experienced winger Hammill and he's hoping to play a major role in Vilnius.

The 32-year-old also acknowledges while it has been strange playing with no fans in the ground, he's just enjoying being back playing the beautiful game again.

“I have always had the mentality even if I'm playing football with my mates in the park, you have got to play for the enjoyment and the love of the game and that's part and parcel with the move here," he said.

"I just want to get that smile back on my face, get out and enjoy my football, expressing myself.

“Since I have been here I have really, really enjoyed it, the lads are great, the staff are top class and it has given that fire back in my belly."

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