Airtricity Premier Division leaders Sligo Rovers, bidding for a first league success since 1978, can keep on course for the title by collecting another vital three points in tonight’s clash with Shelbourne at Tolka Park (8 pm).
Manager Ian Baraclough will be hoping to build on last Monday’s 1-1 draw with Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium and is happy to have David Cawley back after a one-match ban.
“Between now and the end of the season, every player must raise his game as each of these last 11 games will be a huge test of character,” said Baraclough.
Shelbourne, with a full strength squad available, will be hoping to bounce back after last week’s shock 2-1 home defeat by bottom of the table UCD.
Second-placed Drogheda United know they can go top of the table if Shelbourne can put one over leaders Sligo. That is providing Mick Cooke’s side can see off the challenge of champions Shamrock Rovers at Hunky Dory Park (7.45 pm).
Drogheda, with seven wins in their last eight games, are very much the form side and give a late fitness test to utility man Philip Hand.
“It is a must win game for Rovers but also crucial for us as we reach the final phase of the title run-in,” said boss Cooke.
The Hoops have Aaron Greene, Graham Gartland and Stephen O’Donnell all ruled out by injury while defender Pat Sullivan has a late fitness test.
“Drogheda are going very well this year and Mick Cooke must be the “Manager of the Year” — but my team will be going all out for victory to keep in touch with the leaders,” said Rover boss Stephen Kenny.
St.Pat’s, their Europa League adventure over for another season, will be hoping to take advantage of matches in hand when they take on unchanged Bray Wanderers at Richmond Park (7.45 pm).
Boss Liam Buckley, happy that his side are in fourth place, believes that a win would put the Inchicore men back in the mix. The Saints have Jake Carroll back from suspension while there are doubts about the injured John Russell.
Cork City, with eight draws in their last 11 games, will be hoping to get back on the winning track when they travel to take on UCD at the Belfield Bowl (7.45).
“It is always a difficult place to go and an important game for us.Our performances have been quite good, but we haven’t been getting the results we need,” said Cork boss Tommy Dunne.
Neal Horgan and Graham McCarthy are late doubts but striker Keigan Parker returns after suspension against a College side who recorded their first win in eight games against Shelbourne last week. The Students are minus the suspended Paul Corry and are also without the injured Graham Rusk, Chris Mulhall, Cillian Morrison and Samir Belhout.
Derry City will start slight favourites when they play host to fellow middle of the table outfit Bohemians at the Brandywell. The Canydystripes have Stewart Greacen back after injury while Bohemians are without the suspended Dave Scully and Karl Moore while Dave Mulcahy returns after a one match ban.
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