As a populace, we're probably not the most comfortable at taking compliments.

So how would Ciaron Harkin respond to listening to impassioned words from his Derry City manager Ruaidhri Higgins uttered to the Derry Journal recently?

"He's a real credit to himself. He won’t really know this but he has a huge influence around the place. He’s very highly regarded by the staff, players and everyone at the club. He’s a joy to be around, as he always comes in with a smile on his face every day."

High praise indeed. At the Aviva Stadium this week, the Derry midfielder listened to that praise from his manager, not betraying much of a smile but clearly appreciative of the esteem he is held in at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium.

Because it has been a tough season for the 26-year-old who has been sidelined since suffering an ACL rupture to his knee - the first major injury of his career and the "worst one" he could have got - during the second game of the SSE Airtricity League season back in early spring.

We need your consent to load this YouTube contentWe use YouTube to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Yet he has remained integral behind the scenes as the Candystripes push for glory on two fronts. Hence the lavish praise from his manager, even if the player would rather be contributing on the field than seeing his name up in lights in the paper.

"When I read that I obviously was buzzing with it but as I said, I do like being involved," Harkin told RTÉ Sport as EA Sports announced the return of the SSE Airtricity League Club Packs in FIFA 23.

"Obviously, I can't help on the pitch but I am trying to help in other ways, trying to make a buzz around the changing room and getting boys up for games and things like that. Something to try and do just to be involved."

Higgins has recently said Harkin is ahead of schedule in his rehab, albeit with a little bit of work to do to get back onto the pitch.

"Hopefully not too long away," the player says of his prognosis.

The urge to get back would only have been fuelled further after seeing Derry overcome Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup quarter-final last Sunday, setting up a semi-final with First Division Treaty United.

For a Derry side, also within touching distance of the Hoops at the top of the Premier Division, the run-in holds plenty of promise but if the league proves out of reach, the consequence of silverware in the cup would be huge for a Candystripes buoyed by investment.

Harkin was speaking at the Aviva Stadium as EA Sports announced the return of the SSE Airtricity League Club Packs in FIFA 23, which will be launched worldwide on 30 September

"It would be massive. We've been on a good run recently and even the game on Sunday, it's going to boost us again. Hopefully that takes us to our level and we finish strong this season," he said.

"But getting silverware any year is the main thing and from the now on, the squad that Ruaidhri's brought in, it's going to be demanded every year hopefully."

Having the likes of the versatile Cameron Dummigan, who Harkin brands as the best player in the league this year, as well as the returning local heroes Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney is what he hopes can carry them this year and beyond on the current project.

"Before I got injured, I was just really excited to play with them better players. Every time I saw there was a new signing coming in and big, high-profile players in the league - the best players in the league for me - and I know I didn't get to play with them as much as I wanted this year but gladly when I get back from my injury, the chance will come and I'm looking forward to it."