By Diarmaid Doherty Sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat
After missing out on the recent north west derby against Finn Harps because of a combination of injury and suspension, Liam Martin is hoping to return to the Sligo Rovers starting line-up for this weekend’s visit of Galway United in the Premier Division.
It’s been another good season for the Donegal town man who has been a regular in the Sligo side.
However, with a new manager in place in the form of Gerard Lyttle, Martin knows that he has to prove to his new boss that he’s worthy of being a part of his plans until the end of the campaign.
“That’s the way it is for all the players now,” Martin said this week.
“All of a sudden you’ve a new manager here and he’s going to be looking at all the players. I’ve been fortunate that I have been a regular in the team this season, but you really have to work hard to keep your place.”
The 23-year-old from Drimarone was forced off during Sligo’s 2-2 draw at Bray Wanderers at the end of May. He damaged ligaments in an ankle and the injury kept him out of the 0-0 draw against Harps on June 2nd. He would have missed that game anyway because of suspension.
The Harps match was the final game before the mid-season break and while Sligo returned to training on Monday, Martin was due to see the club’s physio.
“I feel okay and hopefully I’ll be available again for Galway on Saturday night,” he said.
“It’s another big game for us and when you look at how close it is at the bottom of the table, there’s a big challenge up ahead for a number of clubs to try and avoid relegation.”
Being involved in a relegation battle is a relatively new experience for Martin. When he broke into the Sligo first team as a raw 17-year-old, he was part of a squad that went on to win the FAI Cup, defeating Shelbourne in the decider in 2011.
He went out on loan to Ballinamallard in the Irish League the following season but was back at Sligo for the 2013 season by the end of which Sligo won the cup again, beating Drogheda United in the final.
Martin went back to Ballinamallard in 2014 and after two impressive seasons with them, he went back to Sligo again in time for the 2016 season, despite strong interest from Finn Harps and Ollie Horgan.
A winger by trade, Martin has found himself used in various different positions this season.
“I’ve nearly played everywhere at this stage,” he said.
“To be honest, I don’t mind where I play, as long as I’m in the team. I’ve played at left back recently, and I’ve been on the left side of a diamond formation.”
Martin is part of a strong Donegal contingent at the Showgrounds with goalkeeper Shaun Patton (Letterkenny), defender Kyle Callan McFadden (Ramelton) and midfielder Jack Keaney (Donegal town) also in the first team squad. Brian Dorrian from Killybegs is first team coach and U-19 manager while up until last week, Declan McIntyre from Donegal town was assistant manager.
“I was sorry to see Declan go,” Martin said.
“He has been really good to me during my time at the club and obviously with him being from Donegal town, he always looked out for me and was just brilliant when it came to giving advice and helping me with my game. He’ll have no trouble finding another club, that’s for sure.”