Declan Devine’s side will be looking to continue with their positive home form that they were showing before lockdown when they welcome Sligo Rovers to the Brandywell on Friday evening (KO 17:45).
The Candystripes have played two league games at the Brandywell this season, beating Bohemians and drawing with rivals Finn Harps.
During lockdown, several players have left the Candystripes while several faces have also arrived at the Ryan McBride Brandywell stadium.
Midfield trio of Adam Hammill, Joe Thomson and Jake Dunwoody have all come in while attackers James Akintunde and Ibrahim Meite have also been added to the squad.
Players that have left the club include Jamie McDonagh and Tim Nielsen while Adam Liddle and Danny Lupano’s loan deals have expired.
City boss Declan Devine will be hoping that his new signings can help Derry to hit the floor running in what will be a curtailed season.
“This league is competitive enough as it is with just ten teams, but everybody will look to be on the front foot straight away as there won’t be much time to make up any lost ground,” Devine told derrycityfc.net.
Friday evening’s game is of course one of many that will take place behind closed doors in the near future, but Devine insists that his players are aware that they’re still representing the City faithful who will be watching from the safety of their own homes.
“Not having our fans in the stadium is a big blow; everybody knows what this place is like when it’s rocking, but the players are aware that thanks to the streaming service, the people that they represent will be backing them from their homes and we will be mindful of that,” the 46-year-old explained.
Derry have a clean bill of health going into Friday evening’s re-start following the return of Darren Cole who picked up an ACL injury 2019.
Liam Buckley will be hoping that his side can get their first points of 2020 on the board when they travel north on Friday.
Buckley has had his side back in training for a number of weeks to prepare for the re-start of the Premier Division after 21 weeks of no competitive football.
“When the players returned to training they were in good condition and they’ve worked very hard over the last few weeks,” the former St Pat’s boss told sligorovers.com
Although Buckley was delighted to be able to work with his players again he does admit that the period since the return to training has posed problems.
“It hasn’t been ideal in having the short period of training and missing lads who have gone through quarantine. There’s an imbalance in the league in that. But this is the situation and we have to make the best of what we have.”
Despite these issues Buckley is doing everything he can to help his squad put a run of results together following a disappointing start to their 2020 campaign.
“With the start we did make, we’ve had the last 21 weeks of sitting at the bottom of the table and it has been on my mind for that period. It’s not the place we want to be. We need to be calm, leave no stone unturned over the next months and get the results we need.”
Lewis Banks and Ronan Coughlan are both available again after injury. By adding these into the mix, Buckley believes his side are more than capable of picking up the results they need to launch their season.
“It is very welcome to have Lewis and Ronan back now as well. They can be big players for us.
“Add in Ryan De Vries, Jesse Devers who has done well for us, Ronan Coughlan has been scoring goals and looking as sharp as I’ve seen him. We also have Regan back who can play further forward and Alex Cooper, we’re looking much stronger overall. Injuries were a big part of the start we made I feel. We need to cut out conceding the likes of goals we did. That has been part of our focus in the last few weeks.
“I’ve also been impressed by Mark Byrne and Darren Collins, they have caught my eye. I’ve no doubt they are going to go on to become good players for this club and they are very much part of the group now. They’re not just the future, they will have a role to play.”
John Mahon continues to miss out for Rovers having sustained a leg break in February. Defender Danny Kane is coming close to returning from a foot injury, but Friday’s game comes too soon for him. New signing Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe has received his work permit and international clearance but is still completing a period of quarantine after arriving from Israel.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
The game will be the first competitive SSE Airtricity League fixture since the postponement of the league back in March as a result of covid 19.
Derry were unbeaten against Liam Buckley’s side in 2019. The Candystripes recorded three victories against the Bit O’Red while the sides also drew 0-0 at the Showgrounds last May.
Rovers have lost their last four games away from the Showgrounds.
Derry City 4/7; Draw 13/5; Away 4/1.
Derry City 2-0 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Danny Kane (Foot), John Mahon (Leg).
Unavailable: Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (Quarantine).