A 2-1 win at Dundalk in the final game before the mid-season break pushed Fingal up to second place but, as a result of his sending off at Oriel park, they will be without Ger O’Brien for the visit of the students. Gary O’Neill (groin) and Stephen Paisley (chest) will undergo pre-match fitness tests.
“This is the first game back from the summer break and we’ve used that period to work on certain aspects of our play, especially from an attacking perspective, in training,” said manager Liam Buckley.
“Overall, coming towards the midway point of the campaign, I feel that the industrious effort of the players has gotten its rewards but there’s a long way to go and we can’t afford to slacken off.”
UCD manager Martin Russell has added midfielder Paul O’Conor to his squad for the Sporting Fingal game. O’Connor is yet another “graduate” from the College Leinster Senior League team where he has been player of the year for the past two seasons.
Third-placed Dundalk visit the home of the champions when they take on Bohemians – still lagging behind in fifth – at Dalymount Park.
Bohs manager Pat Fenlon is hoping to field a more settled team in the second part of the season after injuries and suspensions forced repeated changes throughout the first half.
But Fenlon has to cope immediately with such problems ahead of tonight’s game. Killian Brennan and Jason Byrne are doubtful and Steven Gray and Anto Murphy are struggling with Achilles problems while Glen Cronin is suspended. However, better news is that Raffaele Cretaro played in a friendly match last weekend and should be fit following shin surgery, while Aaron Greene should also return.
For the trip to Bohs, Dundalk manager Ian Foster will be without Liam Burns (abdomen), Peter Cherrie (foot) and Michael Synnott (knee).
Level on points with Dundalk are Shamrock Rovers, who travel to basement side Bray Wanderers. Dessie Baker (Achilles) is Hoops boss Michael O’Neill’s only doubt for a game which the manager insists will be no formality despite the home side’s lowly standing.
“We’re expecting a tough game in Bray,” says O’Neill. “They have a lot of very young players, but they also have some very good players. I’ve seen them quite a few times, and they were unfortunate with a few results.”
Second from bottom Drogheda United – who host Galway United at Hunky Dory’s Park – have until July 14 to appoint a new manager after the FAI ruled that Darius Keirans does not have the required coaching qualifications under the terms of the league’s Club Licensing regulations.
Meanwhile, in the First Division, Cork City players are looking forward to resuming action in the Munster derby against Limerick at Turner’s Cross.
Manager Tommy Dunne has added nine players to his squad over the break – Karl Caulfield, Billy Woods, Eoghan Lougheed, Mark O’Sullivan, John Meade, Derek Varian, Gavin Kavanagh, Neal Horgan and keeper Daniel O’Leary. Woods, Lougheed, Varian, Meade and Kavanagh are all expected be available for action against Limerick, while O’Sullivan is currently on a pre-booked holiday.
Caulfield is not likely to feature as he is returning to full fitness following a hamstring injury, while Horgan has also been recovering from a hamstring problem in recent weeks and was due to be assessed at training this evening. Cathal Lordan will miss out following a setback in his battle with a knee injury, while midfielder Shane Duggan is suspended. John Dineen is struggling after picking up an injury in training.
Tonight’s other First Division games: Derry City v Longford Town, Waterford United v Mervue United and Finn Harps v Shelbourne (8pm).