Ruaidhrí Higgins targets positive result from Gibraltar mission

The Derry City boss wants the Brandywell to be rocking for next week’s second leg against FCB Magpies in the Europa Conference League qualifier

Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins says he will be looking to make some additions to his squad in the coming weeks   Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Derry City manager Ruaidhrí Higgins hopes his side can negotiate a tricky away tie in Gibraltar Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

Uefa Europa Conference League first qualifying round, first leg

FCB Magpies v Derry City (Thursday, 5pm)

DERRY City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins wants to secure a positive result at Bruno’s Magpies as their Europa Conference League campaign gets underway on Thursday.

The Limavady is aware of the importance in having the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium rocking for next Thursday evening’s second leg, adding that last season’s 2-1 win over KUPS at the Brandywell lives long in the memory for the atmosphere created.

“It would mean the world if we bring back a positive result,” he insisted.

“We want to make sure that the Brandywell is packed out next Thursday night. We’ve seen even in my time here over the last few years, the European nights here have been special, particularly the KUPS game last year was probably one of the best nights I’ve ever had in football.

“The noise, the crowd got us over the line that night, I’ve absolutely no doubt about it. They were a really good team and the crowd helped us get over the line.

“We want to create more of them nights. It’s a time of the year where I think it captures the imagination of people, especially from this city. I think there’s been some amazing European nights over the years and hopefully we can have a couple more.”

The 39-year-old admits it has been difficult to get information on the Gibraltar men and knows his squad will have to prepare differently for tonight’s test.

“We’ve done our homework as best we can,” he explained. “Their league fixtures aren’t really online and stuff like that, but we’ve got enough information.

“You have to prepare slightly differently because they’re not in our league, we have to do a wee bit more homework, find out a wee bit more about them.

“Conditions and stuff like that are slightly different, so you do have to prepare a bit differently. It’s a game we’re looking forward to, it’s a time of the year that’s really exciting and it whets the appetite and I’m very proud to be back in Europe again.’'

The Magpies have appointed Nathan Rooney as manager for a second stint and because of that their squad has had a lot of chances. 

“There’s been quite a big turnover in their playing squad and they’re quite a technical team,” Higgins confirmed.

“They’re fluid in how they move around the pitch and they’re obviously used to the conditions over there better than what we are, but that won’t be an excuse, we’ll have to make sure that we’re right and be ready to go over there and get a big result.

“Their record at home in Europe isn’t bad actually, but in saying that what happened last year and the previous year is irrelevant really because the team is different.”

The Derry gaffer admits having players like Michael Duffy, Cameron Dummigan, Daniel Kelly and Pat Hoban, with a lot of European experience in his side, will benefit his squad.

“Aye, I think it does, I think players and staff, we’ve good experience and it’s important and it’s not everything but it does help, there’s no doubt about that,” he confirmed.

“But listen, we just want to go there and try and stamp our authority on the game and as I say conditions will be slightly different to what we’re used to and we’ll have to keep that in the back of our mind.” 

On the team front, the Foylesiders will be working off the squad which lost at Sligo Rovers last week, but recent signing Jacob Davenport may be added to the panel.

“Aye, we have a couple of niggly injuries as you would expect given the amount of fixtures that we’ve played to date,” Higgins added.

“We’re just trying to manage certain individuals as well. Obviously we’ve had to manage Michael Duffy over the last couple of weeks and stuff like that, and one or two others. It’s important that we try and get the team right and understand them. More than likely we’ll use 16 players on Thursday.

“As for Jacob we’ll see, he’s got a minor, minor issue at the minute, so we’ll see closer to kick-off.”