John Cotter takes helm for Sligo visit to the Cross

The story goes that Jose Mourinho once hid in a laundry basket to brief his players covertly and get around a matchday suspension, but manager John Caulfield won’t be going to such lengths when Cork City host Sligo Rovers in their SSE Airtricity Premier Division clash at Turner’s Cross this evening (7.45pm).

John Cotter takes helm for Sligo visit to the Cross

City boss Caulfield will be watching from the stands, as he serves a one-match suspension dished out after the now infamous rumble at the RSC against Waterford, which saw both managers sent off and two players from each side dismissed in the dying embers of Cork’s 2-1 defeat.

With Caulfield absent, assistant manager John Cotter will be making the big calls at Turner’s Cross tonight and he is confident City have their homework done, even if it is a strange dynamic without the boss.

“It will be odd for me, and it will be odd for the players,” said Cotter. “I’ve been there with John anyway for the last five years so I know how he works well.

“John is a massive presence around the place, but we’ve done our work over the last few days so the players will be well prepared.”

Steven Beattie and Garry Buckley are suspended as they serve the second match of their bans for their roles in the RSC melee.

City went about their business by beating St Pat’s last Friday to quickly put events at the RSC very much in the rear view mirror, maintaining silence in the days following. Much like Jose in the laundry basket, they aren’t washing their dirty linen in public.

Gearoid Morrissey and Karl Sheppard will be assessed this morning as they recover from knocks picked up in the win over St Pat’s at the Cross, while Alan Bennett is again likely to miss out. Johnny Dunleavy is continuing his recovery from a long-term injury.

Sligo won 2-1 at Limerick on Saturday to climb out of the promotion-relegation play-off place at the expense of the Shannonsiders, with a spectacular 60-yard Rhys McCabe effort and a Greg Moorehouse effort securing the points for the Bit O’Red.

“Sligo had a great win the other night against Limerick, and they’re probably in a false position,” warned Cotter. “We have to play our own game and be aggressive and strong.”

And however the game goes tonight, Cotter is happy to get out of the hotseat and back to the assistant role as soon as possible. The manager’s job isn’t on his radar right now.

Sligo boss Gerard Lyttle has the same squad available for the trip to Cork as he had for the win against Limerick.

“Make no mistake, we are in for a tough, tough game,” he said. “We have to be up for the fight and on our game to get a positive result. In the first game (a 4-1 win at the Showgrounds for City) we gifted Cork goals. We have to show we are better than that because I think we are.” Victory over Bray Wanderers last time out saw Dundalk go clear at the top of the table for the first time since October 2016 as they prepare for tonight’s trip to the Markets Field to take on struggling Limerick (7.45pm).

“It’s nice to be back on top of the league,” said midfielder John Mountney. “It is where we want to be but we want to be there at the end. There’s a long way to go in this season. We aren’t even at halfway yet so there’s a lot of football to be played.

Karolis Chvedukas misses out again for the Lilywhites with an ankle injury while Krisztián Adorján is doubtful after being forced off at half-time on Friday. However, ‘keeper Gary Rogers returns to the squad after a calf tear and Sean Hoare is also available for selection again after recovering from his groin strain.

Daniel Kearns might have ended Limerick’s long goal drought on Saturday but it was no more than meagre consolation as Sligo’s 2-1 win means Tommy Barrett’s team dropped to second from bottom of the Premier Division ahead of tonight’s daunting challenge against a Dundalk side who thrashed their opponents at Oriel Park back in February.

“We were beaten 8-0 up there so it’s really tough for us to go up against the likes of Dundalk,” said the Limerick manager.

“But, in saying that, Bray gave them a game the other night so we’ll take a bit of hope from that and see can we get a result.

“We got a result against Cork here – and Cork and Dundalk have obviously been very close in last few years, so that’s what we’re hoping to do: get a result.”

Strikers Mark O’Sullivan and Daniel Kearns and defender Darren Dennehy are doubts for the visit of the leaders to the Markets Field but, in promising news for Limerick, midfielder Eoin Wearen is nearing a return to fitness.

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