Shields boost for champs ahead of title crunch

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth says he expects Chris Shields will keep getting better after the powerhouse midfielder signed a new deal at the club.

The reigning PFAI Player of the Year has agreed a long-term contract at the champions, and the 28-year-old looks set to play a big role in tonight’s top-of-the-table clash with Shamrock Rovers (8pm, live on eirSport 1).

“The challenge for Chris is to keep going,” said Perth. “I keep saying to him that there is no ceiling to his talent and seven years ago not many people would think he would have achieved what he has achieved right now.

“He wants to continue and improving. He has done that every year. He has added different facets to his game. I hope this new contract and the security that we have given him will give him the confidence to go forward, to kick on again.

“He gets better all the time. It is predominantly down to him and all of the hard work that he puts in on the training ground. Myself and Stephen (Kenny) took him in as a utility centre-half, as a bit of cover, during that first year.

“It’s hard to believe that is what we were thinking back then. What he has done at this club has been phenomenal. He has had some great nights here and some great European adventures. I don’t want him to think that this is done yet.

I want him to keep dreaming of having big nights. He has the mindset to keep going.

Shields is intent on continuing the current winning run.

“We got three wins on the bounce which was important to us. We needed those wins and it was good to get them. “Rovers have had a good start to the season. It’s going to be one to relish for us.”

League leaders, Rovers, finished Tuesdays’s 1-0 defeat to Bohs last Tuesday with Trevor Clarke and Lee Grace dismissed. Both will be unavailable tonight, but Greg Bolger and Ethan Boyle are in contention to return from injury.

“Dundalk away is always a tough game, but I believe this team is ready to play anybody,” said Rovers boss Stephen Bradley.

“Trevor and Lee will be missed for this one, they’re two good players. It’s not ideal but we trust the squad that no matter who plays we’re ready to go there and get the result. We’ve a few knocks from the other night that we have to have a look at, and we’ll still have to check on Greg Bolger and Ethan Boyle to see if they could play.”

Last five meetings

Mar 1, 2019: Shamrock Rovers 0 Dundalk 0

Aug 28, 2018: Dundalk 1 Shamrock Rovers 2

June 1, 2018: Shamrock Rovers 2 Dundalk 5

April 6, 2018: Dundalk 2 Shamrock Rovers 1

Feb 23, 2018: Shamrock Rovers 0 Dundalk 0

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