Leaders Dundalk face tough trip to Pat’s while Cork City entertain Hoops

Four of the top five go head to head in the SSE Airtricity League tonight with leaders Dundalk away to fifth-placed St Patrick’s Athletic and second taking on third as Cork City host Shamrock Rovers at Turner’s Cross.

“Obviously we are expecting a huge crowd,” says Cork boss John Caulfield in anticipation of the visit of the Hoops who, along with Dundalk, have still to lose a game in the league this season. “It’s two teams near the top of the table, both with an eye on winning it and certainly keeping the pressure on Dundalk, so it is a huge game.”

Alan Bennett, back in training after his hamstring injury, is in with a chance of playing but will have to be assessed closer to kick-off. However, Danny Morrissey, stretchered off in Tuesday’s EA Sports Cup game against St Pat’s, is ruled out, though there is hope that his injury is not as bad as originally feared. Kieran Djilali and John Dunleavy — both with knee injuries — are also sidelined.

Rovers have only one definite absentee in striker Danny North. Former Irish international midfielder Stephen McPhail is regarded as a doubt with a back strain and will face a fitness test today.

Champions Dundalk, four points clear of Cork and with a game in hand to boot, travel to Richmond Park to take on a St Pat’s side who, already 13 points in arrears in fifth, really can’t afford to lose more ground on the leaders and the chasing pack.

“Since I have came to the club, the matches against St Pat’s have always been so tough, especially at Richmond Park,” says Lilywhites boss Stephen Kenny. “They play good football like ourselves and they will give us a really good game. “

Dundalk will be without centre-half Brian Gartland (hamstring) and captain Stephen O’Donnell is a doubt with an Achilles tendon injury but Sean Gannon is available again after suspension.

Saints manager Liam Buckley has the luxury of a full squad to choose from for what he knows will be a testing challenge.

“Dundalk have been excellent to date and have been very impressive in some matches. We know it’ll be a tough game, but we’ll prepare for the match as we would any other game and take it on its merits. From our end of things, we’re trying to take it a game at a time.”

Tonight’s other Premier Division game are Bohemians v Bray Wanderers, Dalymount Park; Derry City v Sligo Rovers, Brandywell Stadium; and Drogheda United v Galway United, United Park.

In the First Division, it’s Cabinteely v Cobh Ramblers, Stradbrook; Finn Harps v UCD, Finn Park (8pm); Shelbourne v Waterford United, Tolka Park (8pm) and.Wexford Youths v Athlone Town, Ferrycarrig Park (8pm).

All of tonight’s games kick off at 7.45pm unless indicated otherwise.

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