Long: 'Experienced players need to step up'
Bohemians boss Keith Long has called on his senior players to do more to help the club out of their slump.
The Gypsies, who host Finn Harps on Friday night, are on a run of six successive defeats, including Monday's 3-0 home loss to Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior Cup where Bohs, admittedly, fielded a weakened side and had a 15-year-old on the bench against a first-choice Shels XI.
Cup defeats can be swallowed but it's the run of four straight league losses, without a goal scored, that has caused concern as Bohs have gone from a position in the top four of the table to their current standing of just one point and one place above the relegation zone.
"We need to do more as a group," says Long. "And we need players to start delivering in terms of performances, some of our more experienced players need to start producing. We have spoken about it as a group, losing games isn't easy and we are expected to win so we have to try and lift things for Friday.
"There is constant worry to deliver performances and results. It's still an early stage in the season, the first series of games gives you a reflection of where you are but if we can finish the first phase of 11 games on 13 points, and get 13 points in each series of matches, it should be enough for us to stay in the division.
"The supporters have been fantastic, even in the defeats, they have been behind me and the players, but we need to give them something back.
"We have lost four league games and two cup matches but our performance against Cork here was decent. But we lost to Cork despite playing well and you don't get points for good displays so we need to get points on board and we need to do it quickly, and Friday against Finn Harps is a good place to start."
Jamie Doyle and Ian Morris have recovered from injury but there's still no date set for a return for forwards Ismahil Akinade, absent for months after surgery on his spleen, and Dinny Corcoran.
"There's no timeline for Izzy, we have a programme that he is working to and he is three weeks into that but he still has to let the wound heal," says Long. "Dinny is having shock treatment this week to try and get rid of the pain he's experiencing, he's working hard but has missed five weeks and hopefully this treatment can cure the damage.
"And we won't be making changes to the squad, we have what we have. That means that in the cup like the EA Sports Cup match with Shamrock Rovers and Shels on Monday, we are throwing in players who are not quite ready for the first team. There is talent there, the likes of Brandon Kavanagh and Dominic Peppard, who are only 16, we had keeper Cian Clarke on the bench against Shels and he's just 15.
"That's where we are. We have a good first eleven but after that we are depending on younger players to come through and it's really tough at the moment," added Long.