Following a 2-0 loss to Bohemians last week, City are three points off the Lilywhites, but Caulfield believes a large crowd can help them secure victory.
“Everyone thinks that Dundalk are champions-elect,” he said, “I suppose there’s an opportunity for us, in front of our own crowd, to see how good they are.
“We have to give it our best shot, we’ll throw everything we have at them and if they prove they’re better than us, well and good.
“At the same time, it’s important that we give a good performance and I’m appealing to the crowd to get into the ground early and create the atmosphere that will help make it a difficult night for Dundalk.”
Earlier this season, City travelled to Oriel Park and lost 4-0, with preparations hampered by a long hold-up on the motorway. Caulfield is keen to make clear that revenge isn’t a primary motivator tonight, however.
“It’s not about avenging anything,” he said.
“That night wasn’t a freak, it was just a bad result and we deserved to lose 4-0. What went on earlier in the season doesn’t bother me, but last week we were below-par in lots of areas.
“Stephen Kenny is a good manager and has won a lot of trophies, he has them playing well. But I have a feeling if we play well we could get a result.
“All that matters is Friday. It gives us the opportunity to back joint-top, and if you had said at the start of the season that we’d be there, I think you’d have taken it.”
Caulfield is hopeful the general reluctance to consider his side as real challengers can be used to the Rebel Army’s advantage.
“We’re still being written off, we have been all year,” he said.
“We’ve come from a situation where we haven’t been in contention to one where we’re challenging. Last week was disappointing, but the beauty is that we’re coming into August, we have a few home matches and we just need everyone to rally around.
“We know how big the match is, but I’m confident that if we put a high-intensity performance in then we’re capable of getting a result. It’s an opportunity to step up to the mark.
“Dundalk look unbeatable at the moment, and maybe they are, but maybe they’re not.”
City welcome Garry Buckley back from suspension, and while Rob Lehane is out, Gearóid Morrissey could see some action. Caulfield has also brought in Ross Gaynor from Sligo this week, with Iarfhlaith Davoren and Jason Forde leaving the club.
Brian Lenihan will be an absentee after being stretchered off against Bohs, but Caulfield is pleased that his fall didn’t result in anything more serious.
“Brian was critical for a number of minutes, I don’t think people realised how serious it was,” he said.
“Thankfully, when Dr John Browne jumped the fence, he was able to act on him straightaway and he’s good, everything looks okay. He’s on the road to recovery, but as and when he’s back, we don’t know yet.”