Graham Burke will get 'fitter...


Graham Burke will get 'fitter and stronger' | Stephen Bradley

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Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley has assured supporters that the best is yet to come from their prodigal son, Graham Burke.

The striker returned to the starting team, for the first time since re-joining the Tallaght club from Preston North End, in the FAI Cup win against Finn Harps last Friday.

Speaking ahead of their trip north to face Derry City in the SSE Airtricity League on Friday night, Bradley was keen to highlight how eager Burke was to wear the Hoops again.

"It’s great to have Graham back. When we signed him he had a lot of other options but he pushed hard to make this happen," said Bradley.

"It shows his hunger and desire to play for the club again and it’s fantastic when you have players of Graham's ability with that hunger and desire to play for us. In patches he did really well and could have had two goals.

"We have to understand that he was in pre-season so it was great to get minutes into him without any injuries. He’ll only get fitter and stronger in the coming weeks."

A solitary Dan Carr goal was the difference in the cup clash with Harps but the Rovers boss felt that they should have scored more.

"We had enough chances to make it more comfortable," admitted Bradley. "You would have liked to make it more comfortable but we obviously didn’t and they were always in the game. But we got the win and we're in the next round.

"We felt it would be a comedown after the European games and you could sense it on the night, it was a little bit flat in terms of the atmosphere, the build-up and the buzz around the game. You could see that in parts of the performance.

"Looking at the draw, especially early on in the competition it’s important to get a home draw [vs Drogheda United] and thankfully we have. It's one to look forward to."

Derry City are looking to maintain their push for European football next season as they welcome the Hoops to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium with the Candystripes in third place ahead of Bohemians thanks to a better goal difference.

Rovers head into the game in second place and seven points behind leaders Dundalk, who also have a game in hand, and Bradley knows that it won't be easy to get a result which would help to narrow that gap.

"Derry are having a very good season," added Bradley. "Declan is doing a great job up there and he has got a good group of players together. It’ll be a difficult game but we’re ready to go and win three points.

"The Brandywell is a pitch we enjoy playing on and it suits us. Neil Farrugia still isn’t ready yet. Leon Pohls took a knock in training. Joey O’Brien has been playing the last few weeks with a bad ankle and he’ll probably struggle for tomorrow night."

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