John Caulfield is expected to shuffle his pack for tonight’s EA Sports Cup semi-final at Shamrock Rovers, with Greg Bolger, Jimmy Keohane, and Ryan Delaney all in line to start at Tallaght Stadium tonight, writes
The trio didn’t feature in the starting team for Friday’s league win at Drogheda United and, as City look to wrap up the league title possibly by the end of the month, their boss is giving this competition some context.
“There will be a number of changes,” vowed Caulfield.
“It is an intense period for us coming off the back of three games in a week and we are going to rotate the squad.
“The EA Sports Cup is the third national competition and we have always used it to give players game time, which we did in the earlier rounds.”
Meanwhile, Rovers manager Stephen Bradley feels his side can exploit the weakness left by the departure of City’s top scorer Sean Maguire.
The striker started his first English Championship game in Saturday’s campaign opener against Sheffield Wednesday after completing his move, along with Kevin O’Connor, to Preston North End a fortnight ago.
Apart from last week’s first defeat of the season to Bohemians, City’s procession towards the title has been unaffected but Rovers will be aiming to capitalise on Maguire’s absence.
The Kilkenny man scored both of City’s goals in their last visit to Dublin back in March, their fifth straight victory of the season, and Bradley believes the landscape has changed following Maguire’s exit.
“Sean was the best striker we’ve had in the league for a long, long time,” noted the young Hoops boss.
“In terms of his movement down the sides, he was the one that took them up the pitch and allowed them to play their game off that.
“Cork are still a very good side but for me he was the main focus of the team at the time.
“They are dangerous and we’ve got to be at our best to beat them and get to the final.”
Experienced defender Simon Madden too is adamant Rovers are capable of eliminating the type of opportunities Maguire seized upon in the last meeting of the sides in Dublin.
“We’re the home team and it’s a big chance for us to get into a final,” explained the former Leeds United trainee.
“When we played Cork at home earlier in the season, we should have won. It was a mistake from us early on and the penalty at the end which cost us.
“This is a massive game for us because Shamrock Rovers have to be winning trophies. We just need to be more ruthless with our finishing.”
In the other semi-final, Galway United welcome Dundalk to Eamonn Deacy Park (4pm).
“This game couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” Galway boss Shane Keegan insisted
“There is a lot of positivity about the club. We’ve won three of our last four games. The players are in a good frame of mind.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.