Sligo look to extend lead as Pats travel south to in-form Bray

Runaway Premier Division leaders Sligo Rovers will be hoping to open up the gap on the chasing pack when they host Shelbourne at the Showgrounds (7.45pm) tonight.

New boss Ian Baraclough will rely on the same squad as that which saw off champions Shamrock Rovers at the same venue last weekend. But ruled out by a hamstring injury is Cameroon international Joseph Ndo.

“We have a group of lads that are fully focussed long term and in for the long haul. We have set a standard in our opening 11 games with eight wins and three draws — now we must keep that going,” said Baraclough.

Shelbourne will be minus the suspended Sean Byrne, red carded after 13 minutes in last week’s 2-0 victory away to UCD while Lorcan Fitzgerald and Stephen Hurley are long-term injury absentees.

Second-placed St Pat’s, six points behind Sligo, face a difficult assignment away to in-form Bray Wanderers. The Seagulls made it three league wins in-a-row with a 2-0 away win over Dundalk last week with veteran striker Jason Byrne scoring both the goals from penalty kicks. Shane O’Connor and Sean Hurley are added to the squad.

Shamrock Rovers, level on points with Drogheda United, will be slight favourites when the two sides meet at Tallaght Stadium (7.05pm).

The Hoops will be without the suspended Graham Gartland and Chris Turner as both were sent off against Sligo last week. Central defender Ken Oman makes his return but striker Ciarán Kilduff is still injured. Drogheda are minus the suspended Brian Gannon and Shane Grimes.

Cork City, with three wins and a draw in their last five games will give late fitness tests to Dan Murray, Tadhg Purcell, Gearóid Morrissey and Colin Healy when UCD visit Turners Cross (7.45pm).

“We are gradually getting used to the pace of the Premier Division. Every team is capable of taking points off each other, but we have been picking up some useful points of late,” said Cork boss Tommy Dunne.

Bohemians will be hoping to further edge their way out of the relegation zone when they play host to Derry City at Dalymount Park (7.45pm).

Derry at last got back on the winning track with that 4-1 victory against Monaghan United on Tuesday but again will be without the injured Stewart Greacen, Kevin Deery and Barry Molloy.

Home advantage should suit Dundalk when they face fellow strugglers Monaghan in the clash of the two bottom clubs at Oriel Park (7.45pm).

Dundalk will not name their starting line-up until just prior to kick-off. Monaghan have Robert Bayly back in the squad, but out with injury are John Reilly, Paul Whelan, Shaun Maher and Aidan Collins.

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