The Candystripes will make an emotional return to league football tomorrow night against Harry Kenny’s Bray Wanderers after the unexpected death of club captain Ryan McBride last week.
Before the tragic event, which shocked and saddened an entire city, the club made the perfect start to their league campaign.
Wins against Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk, which brought winning goals from McBride, and wins against Bohemians and Drogheda was a big statement of intent from the Foylesiders.
Kenny Shiels will know the focus will be on the centre back position tomorrow night and he could turn to Scott Whiteside, Dean Jarvis or Alon Nezter to replace the irreplaceable Ryan McBride.
Vice-captain Gerard Doherty has also been promoted to club captain and he spoke to the Derry Journal this week about the unfortunate events that have happened in recent weeks.
It was just a natural progression, as I was vice-captain anyway,” explained Doherty.
“Kenny (Shiels) told someone and then it was out and, listen, it isn’t something I want to make a big deal about, it’s just something that’s happened for a crazy, terrible reason but it’s something I’m going to embrace.
“I was in two minds what to do and how to feel about it. I’m just going to try and step up and hopefully be as good as captain as Ryan was.
“Yes, at the back of the boys’ mind we’ll want to do it for Ryan, but then we have to treat each game just like any other. We have to try our best and try to treat it as another game,” he added.
“First and foremost, if every player has the attitude that they just go out and perform for themselves, then everything else will just fall into place.”
Shiels can also expect to have Rory Patterson, Conor McDermott, and Ben Doherty back in the fold this week after the trio spent several weeks on the sidelines, but it is uncertain whether Shiels will put them back into the mix straight away.
Ahead of the match, Shiels has called on his players to remove any emotion they carry and play for the club and the jersey.
"You go on but you don't move on," Shiels said. "You go on and you carry him with you.
"We're not doing anything for Ryan. We're doing it for us, that's the terminology. Ryan is us, he's part of us, the supporters are 'us'; the players, the staff, the management, the directors, the people who do the work behind the scenes - that's 'us'."
Bray Wanderers come into this game after having an indifferent start to the season. Three wins and three defeats in their first six games have positioned ‘The Seagulls’ fifth in the table with nine points.
Harry Kenny invested big in the squad at the back end of the transfer window and he will be looking to get his side back on track after suffering back to back defeats against both Sligo Rovers and Limerick respectfully.
This will also be Bray’s fourth away game of the season and they will be hoping they don’t suffer their third defeat in a row on the road this campaign.
A win against the Candystripes will move Kenny’s side into second spot and the Derry City manager knows his side won’t have it easy tomorrow night.
"They're a good team," said Shiels. "Gary McCabe has come in from Shamrock Rovers and Aaron Greene has come in from Limerick. They've made a lot of good acquisitions and if they beat us they move into second so they've got all those incentives to do well and it's going to be a hard game.
"We've got to beat Bray because we're challenging for Europe. That's the incentive for us. It's an important game for one simple reason, and this sounds a bit cruel, but we need to win to stay in second place."
The Bray may have their hands full this week, with Derry's very exciting forward line. Nathan Boyle has been firing on all cylinders since Patterson got injured against Bohemians on the opening day of the season.
Barry McNamee and Ronan Curtis have also been on top form. McNamee scored his first hat-trick for the club in their last meeting against Drogheda United and Curtis has been playing superbly for both club and country after showing his talents in the Republic of Ireland U21 victory against Kosovo last week.
If the Leinster side can stop the Candystripes from playing their quick attacking football then they may stand a chance against a very good Derry City outfit.
Referee: Derek Tomney
Bray Wanderers have gone seven games without keeping a clean sheet, but won four out of the seven of those fixtures.
Derry City are unbeaten this season and have won all of their home games so far this campaign.
The Candystripes have not suffered defeat in four games against Bray Wanderers.
Derry City 10/11; Draw 5/2; Bray Wanderers 3/1
Derry City 3 – 0 Bray Wanderers
Doubtful: Rory Patterson; Conor McDermott