Shels meet St Patrick’s Athletic at Tolka Park tonight (7.45pm) to kick off the first of four matches against fellow Dublin sides in May either side of a trip to fellow early pacesetters Cork City.
Shels started the campaign with wins over Waterford, Derry and Longford drawing at Drogheda last weekend to leave them level on points with the Leesiders, but lying in second on goal difference.
Fenlon said: “This is what it’s all about; the players are in good shape and are well up for it. No disrespect to the teams we’ve played so far, but if a Dublin team is to win the league, you’ve got to come out top of the Dublin derbies. It’s even more important this season, with four rounds of games to be played.”
Fenlon has a fully-fit squad for tonight’s game with defender Tony McCarthy vying for a return to the side after missing the Drogheda game through injury.
Dessie Baker will not be in the squad. The 25-year-old attacking midfielder has gone on loan to UCD in a bid to complete his comeback from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
“Dessie needs to get some games under his belt, but if required, he’ll be recalled to Tolka Park”, said Fenlon.
Pat’s manager Eamonn Collins could be without Ugandan striker Charles Livingstone and fellow front man Jimmy Lee Jones for tonight’s game. Both have knee injuries and face fitness tests today, but Collins rates their chances of playing as extremely doubtful. Former Swansea defender Ryan Casey is back in contention having recovered from a groin injury which kept him out for two weeks.
Collins was relieved to see Pat’s finally get a win under their belt last week with a 4-1 defeat of Derry City. That followed draws at Cork City and at home to Shamrock Rovers. And a 4-2 thrashing by Waterford.
“The win was good, but I was also happy to get a good performance from them,” Collins said. “We were disappointed with the performance at Waterford; it wasn’t like us to give away some poor goals, individual errors, two penalties and have two goals disallowed ourselves.
“But we bounced back and showed character to go 1-0 down against Derry and come back to beat them 4-1. That was fantastic. We’ve a lot of new players and it’s going to take time bedding everything down and making sure everyone’s gelling. Finger’s crossed, we’re going forward now.”
If Pat’s go to Tolka Park and win, Waterford United will be looking to crown their impressive start to the season with a victory over champions Bohemians tonight at the RSC (7.30), which will send them top. At the other end of the table, seventh-placed Drogheda United play eighth-placed Longford Town at 02 Park (8.00).
The only First Division game tonight will be third-placed Finn Harps’ trip to Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds (7.45).
Current Premier division leaders Cork City, meanwhile, have boosted their squad at the close of the transfer window by signing left-sided Robbie Hedderman on loan from Aberdeen.
Hedderman, 21, a former Ireland U-18 international, joined the Dons from Tolka Rovers in August 2001. He can play at left-back, midfield or on the left side of central defence.