Tonight, the Candystripes host UCD at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium (kick off 7.45 pm) with the manager hoping his side can get another win under their belt.
28-year-old Duffy signed from Dundalk last year, has endured an injury-riven season.
“I’m not mystic Meg,” the always phlegmatic Ruaidhri Higgins responded, when asked if Derry might have a greater fist of the title challenge had Duffy been available before now – “but we’d definitely be closer (to Shamrock Rovers). That’s pretty obvious.”
Derry, after a whirlwind start in which they downed the Hoops on the second weekend, saw their title challenge taper off badly midway through the season.
Dundalk would eventually pick up the baton as the main challengers, before their own form ebbed.
The Candystripes are unbeaten in the last 10 games – dating back to their 2-1 loss to Sligo in late May – but six of those games have been draws.
It has just been not enough to keep pace with the leaders.
Tonight, they will be highly fancied to take three points against bottom-placed side UCD, currently involved in a ferocious scrap for survival against Harps.
The students appeared a hopeless case in the early days of the season but they’ve proved more resilient since then.
Derry boss Higgins is wary of their threat, pointing out that they are indeed a Premier Division team.
“They’ve improved dramatically since they were last here, without doubt,” the Derry manager said
“We’ve seen in the Cup this season that any team is capable of beating another. UCD are a Premier Division team and we have prepared for the game as we have for every other.
“We have to be completely focused because if we’re not, they will beat us.”Tags: