Derry City’s search for a new Captain, following the departure of Eoin Toal to Bolton Wanderers in the recent transfer window, is over after Candystripes boss Ruaidhri Higgins announced midfielder Patrick McEleney will be the man to wear the armband for the rest of the 2022 season.
Despite a slow start to life back at the Brandywell due to injuries, McEleney has now played the full ninety in Derry City’s last six league matches with the ex-Dundalk man registering four assists in the top-flight this season while the 29-year-old also scored a crucial late winner against Shelbourne earlier in the campaign.
Last Friday’s scoreless draw at home to league leaders Shamrock Rovers leaves Derry City eight points off the pace at present but with Rovers facing into a fixture pile up by way of their European successes, there may still be time for City to put the pressure on as they seek a first league title since 1997.
A difficult trip to Drogheda now awaits Derry on Friday with the Louth side high on confidence after a 3-1 win against Shelbourne last time out. With the two sides above Derry in the table facing off at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday, this is a must not miss opportunity for Ruaidhri Higgins men.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s game at Head In The Game Park, Higgins confirmed Patrick McEleney would be his new Captain going forward.
“Patrick is the natural choice and I had no hesitation in offering him the armband. He’s a real leader, on the pitch and off, and he will bring out the very best in the players around him. He’s a winner and he’s hungry for more success. I know how much that would mean to him at his hometown club”, said Higgins.
As for this weekends opponents, Higgins recognises Drogheda deserve the upmost respect after some big results against some of the divisions top sides already this season.
“Look at their (Drogheda’s) record against the top teams in the table and you’ll see a win and a draw against Shamrock Rovers and two wins over Dundalk. “Dundalk have only lost three times in the league this season and two of them were against Drogheda, so it shows what they are capable of”, commented Higgins.
In terms of team news, Higgins revealed he will be operating with an almost entirely fit squad with only long-term absentee Ciaron Harkin out of the equation.
Have you tuned into this week’s edition of Between the Stripes LOI podcast? On S6EP26, we speak to Hungarian Football expert and former referee Gayle Hope ahead of Shamrock Rovers Europa League play-off first-leg with Ferencváros. Meanwhile, Kieran & Gary get stuck into some hot topics, including the potential latest UK-based takeover of Waterford FC, a far from “resplendent” Bray Wanderers, Rovers v Dundalk this coming Sunday, and the turbulent nature of the First Division title race. Listen here.