Duff relishing clash with UCD

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Shelbourne FC make the short trip across the city to face UCD tomorrow at the Belfield Bowl (7:45pm)

Damien Duff’s side come into this one off the back of a 1-1 draw with Derry City in their last League of Ireland outing.

In team news, Shels will once again be without the influential Matty Smith, a key player this season, while the long term injured Brian McManus is out, Shane Griffin and Kyle Robinson are also missing:

“Toward the end of the Bohs game, Kyle took a head knock. As a result, he won’t be involved against UCD, more out of an abundance of caution. It’s great to see him score, though. That will definitely help his confidence

“Matty won’t be in the squad tomorrow due to an ongoing issue. He rolled his ankle against Sligo Rovers. The same goes for Griff, who has a calf strain, and Brian McManus is rehabbing after surgery.

Duff welcomed two new players to the training group this week following the arrival of Harry Fisk and Harry Wood, both joining from Hull City. Duff hopes the window will bring the best out of his current squad:

“I hope to see a response from the players here. The window can be positive as it brings healthy competition to the group. It keeps everyone on their toes and pushes them to perform better, the players here looking over the shoulder, knowing new boys are coming in, it helps them get up to the next gear.

“It’s great to have Harry Wood and Harry Fisk in, they’ll add a lot to the squad. It’s important that people know, and the lads know. Nobody should assume anything will be handed to new signings coming from Hull City, players will be picked on the same basis they always have been, they will need to earn their minutes.”

Shels beat UCD 1-0 the last time the sides met in Tolka earlier this season, on the last visit to Belfield the sides played out a 0-0 draw. Duff admits results against UCD have been frustrating at times for the players and staff:

“We won the home game in Tolka, it was a frustrating night. When we analyse it, the goal is to get three points, but right up there, we aim for a strong and positive performance. The key to a good performance is mentality. We need to approach the game with the right mindset, prepare properly, and that performance should follow.”

UCD have lost 9 of their last 10 games, their most recent meeting with St Pats a week ago saw them beaten 7-0. Duff feels it would be foolish to underestimate the Students:

“Listen they are a dangerous team, and one of the big things they have is a strong mindset, previous results never seem to affect or bother them. Despite being on the end of a 7-0 defeat last week, they don’t let that weigh them down. They are a young and fit group of players, filled with positivity. They’ll bounce into the game and they have a strong spirit and determination, we have to match that and turn up with the right approach.”

Between the Leinster Senior Cup, the FAI Cup and the League of Ireland, the Reds will face Bohs 3 times in the next few weeks. Duff is fully focused on UCD, but admits he’s relishing the prospect of the Dublin Derby filled few weeks: 

“I’m not looking beyond UCD, but I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Bohs game. It reminds me a few years back of El Clásico when Barcelona played Real Madrid three times in a span of 10 days back in 2011. It’s a similar situation, and lads will never get tired of playing against Bohs. It’s always a brilliant game, and when you add in the stakes at the moment, it will be a big few weeks for the club.”

Duff has urged his senior players to take on the responsibility of leading tomorrow and has put the onus on them to make amends for the last visit to UCD:

“I believe the players are up for it, they’ve responded well to us asking them to take responsibility for tomorrow but the most crucial thing is not delivering that Tuesday or Thursday in training its under the lights on Friday.

“It’s what I’ve been looking for for the past 18 months – for the players to take charge. That’s what top teams do. The manager allows the players to lead the way. We’re looking for the players to step up.

“We have experienced players like Kearns, Coyle, Barrett, but Lukey for near on 18 months has been doing it on his own at times. We have lads who can make a difference, they have the ability and experience, and we want them to be comfortable in taking on that leadership role. Getting that result, delivering the performance, that’s all that matters on Friday really.”

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