Friday nights match kicks off at 7.45 pm. Coverage on LOITV.

You had said a few times after games this season that you were still looking for the complete 90 minute performance from the group. Was that close to it in the 3-0 win over Sligo last Friday?

“It looked a lot more like us, we applied ourselves for the full 90 minutes and that’s all you can ask. You’re not going to have the perfect game at any point, you’ll give up opportunities and that’s football, it’ll happen in any game around the world. What we did really well against Sligo was we applied our minds and respected the game for 90 minutes. That was really important.”

Aaron Greene scored two last week and made the assist for Graham’s goal and has four goals this season. There was a really nice piece in the Independent last Saturday about Aaron and how he had considered packing in the game following the sad loss of his mother last year. The players and staff rallied around Aaron, gave him his time and space to decide what to do, but he’s come back from his loss playing as well as ever.

“I’m not sure how many people would’ve known that about Aaron last year. I know alot of fans just look at what they see on the pitch but there’s so much that actually goes into that player getting onto the pitch. Aaron had a really difficult time last year in losing his Mam. But the group here is a really tight group, we all got around Aaron as best we could. He needed space and time away, to do some soul-searching and really think about what he wanted to do. When you lose someone so precious in your life, it makes you really think. So it was a really difficult year for Aaron off the pitch last year. But it shows the type of man and person he is, in terms of how he came back and scored some vital goals for us last year. His attitude to the game and training never changed and this year you can see he’s so free and clear in his mind. That only comes with taking that time and really trying to understand what happened and come to terms with that. We told Aaron the door was always open for him, but it was also important he took as much time as possible away and really process what had happened.”

You gave another young player his league debut in the Sligo game, Cian Barrett, who follows on from his dad Graham and grandad Gary in playing for the club. Cian and Conan seemed to have a good understanding with each other from the minutes Cian got, so were you happy with his debut and what can we expect to see from Cian as a footballer?

“I was really happy with Cian. He went on loan last year and played a lot of games for Kerry FC. He’s been learning different positions in the last year or so, and it’s been about putting him in at the right time. Like all young players you’re waiting for the right opportunity and the right environment, but I really liked what I saw against Sligo. He played with real maturity, passed the ball with real tempo and made some really good tackles. We’ve known Cian since he was seven years old, we’ve seen him develop all the way up. His attitude and desire to be a footballer is first class. When you combine that with ability, you always have a chance. That’s the first and hopefully the first of many. He’s carrying on the tradition through his family, which is always special, now he needs to stay focussed, if he does that and keeps working hard, there’ll be plenty more opportunities to come for him.”

Derry away on Friday is the first of two big games for the weekend and Monday, you won’t be looking beyond Derry first.

“No, we can’t. Obviously Derry are a good side and we know that. They’ve got good players and we know Derry away is always a difficult game but I think we’re in a good place. We’ll go up there with every intention to respect Derry but go try and win the game and that’s what we’ll try to do. It’s usually a good game, both teams are decent who go for it, so it has the makings of a good game and we’re really looking forward to it.”

We have a fairly decent record in recent years on the artificial surface in the Ryan McBride Brandywell, does the surface influence your thinking in any other way in terms of selection or tactics or the quick turnaround for Monday?

“It can alter things. You don’t come away from the principles of what we do. But you have to tweak things and respect everything that goes into that environment, the pitch and the opposition. The pitch definitely plays on your mind if you have players carrying knocks or players it doesn’t suit. But we like the pitch, it’s big and we’d like it to be real grass, but it’s big and the spaces suit us. We like playing there and tomorrow will be no different.”

Can you update us on the situation of the recent injuries?

“We have a couple training this morning that we can hopefully look at and we’ll make a decision after that. Nobody will be rushed for this weekend. We want players back, but it’s not about rushing them at this stage of the season. Rory Gaffney and Seán Kavanagh train today, Johnny Kenny came on last week. We had a setback with Lee Grace. He was back running on the pitch last week but didn’t feel right, so he’ll go to see a specialist in London next week. When Lee tells you he’s not right, he’s not right, as he’s a tough man. We’ve had good news on Jack Byrne’s scans, he had some treatment yesterday and will do some running today, hopefully all going well he’ll be back on the pitch next week in terms of back running and ramping it up. Hopefully, in the next week or two we can push him back in with the group. Aaron McEneff is similar, good news on his scans, he’s nearly there and hopefully the next two weeks he’ll be back around the squad. Neil Farrugia is getting there, he’s been back mixing with the group and we’re just waiting on the all clear from the surgeon. Seán Hoare will be next week. When you name off all the players, there’s quite a few and all are obviously good players, but we’re getting there. I’d be hopeful come the end of the month we should have most or all back all going well.”