David McMillan is hoping that his performance against Sligo Rovers last Friday night will be enough to see him retain his place in the Dundalk starting XI for the crunch league encounter against St Patrick’s Athletic this week.
The striker took his tally to 10 goals in all competitions with the opening strike in Dundalk’s 3-0 win over the Bit O’Red, a record that is even more impressive when you consider he has only started 10 games all season.
McMillan has been a constant fixture in Dundalk’s side when it comes to the cup competitions but he has made just two league starts this year and hasn’t started successive games since early March.
However, with Patrick Hoban out of action until early July following a knee operation, the 23-year-old is hoping to get a regular run of games, starting with the visit of the league champions on Friday night.
“It’s been a month since Pat knew he was going to have the operation so I’ve had to be patient,” said McMillan after the victory over Sligo Rovers.
“I’ve been pushing to try and get in on my own merit without Pat going in for the operation. It’s been difficult because I I’ve been playing well and scoring goals and feel I deserved a chance but everybody has been flying and we’ve been winning games so I can’t really complain too much.
“You just have to stay as focussed as you can and wait for the chance to come along. Luckily, tonight I was able to deliver.”
Dundalk’s relentless run of form over the past month, which has seen them win seven games on the bounce since the Setanta Cup final loss to Sligo Rovers, has made it difficult for Stephen Kenny to change a winning team, something which McMillan acknowledges.
“I think Stephen’s afraid to say too much to me because he knows I’m chomping at the bit to start,” he laughed. “But it’s great for him because he has the confidence that when players are out he knows others can come in.
“It’s not just me, it’s the likes of the other lads who are on the bench like Ruaidhri Higgins and Marc Griffin. They’re all eager to get in and be involved but the team has been playing that well our chances are limited.
“We all have to be able to step up when that chance comes along. Andy Boyle’s going to miss the game against St Pat’s so that’s the chance for somebody else to come in.”
Victory over St Pat’s would send Dundalk into the summer break sitting nine points clear of Liam Buckley’s side. That would represent a significant lead at the halfway stage of the season but McMillan is refusing to contemplate such a scenario.
“It is quite a big game. They’re six points behind us at the moment but whatever the result there’s still half of the league to go. With the break coming up, we want to go out on a high and we couldn’t be coming into the game in better form. You never know what will happen but hopefully it’s a positive result for us.”
Reflecting on the FAI Cup win, McMillan said the victory was made even sweeter as it came against a side where he spent six months last season, and one that contained his older brother, Sligo Rovers centre-back Evan.
“Probably not,” he laughed when asked if there would be any banter in the McMillan household.
“Obviously I’m delighted but I’m sure Evan will be very disappointed. We’re just thrilled to get through. It was a really tough draw to get the cup holders. Happily we were at home because we fancy ourselves against anybody here at the minute.”