Eight-placed Limerick welcome ninth-placed Sligo Rovers to Markets Field on Saturday evening (kick off 6.30pm). There are just two points separating the sides.
The Super Blues gained a morale boosting point away to Bohemians last weekend. HJowever that scoreless draw was followed by a 1-0 reverse at home to Cobh Ramblers in the EA Sports Cup.
The midweek addition of Conor Clifford to their squad will bolster a midfield that must improve offensively to help Limerick up the table.
Winger Daniel Kearns is nearing a return and could feature against his former club. Danny Morrissey is doubt though with a groin issue, while Eoin Wearen, once of Sligo Rovers, misses out once again.
Clifford, who returns to football following a worldwide ban for betting offences, will be in line to start immediately for the Blues. Boss Tommy Barrett spoke on Tuesday to the club website about signing the former Ireland under-21 international. “We are delighted to have Conor on board. He is a good signing.”
“We have a light squad and when a player of Conor’s ability becomes available it is great to be able to have him. Hopefully he can kick-start his career again from here.
Barrett added, “He is a good midfielder. He is technically very good and energetic, and we believe he can chip in with some goals as well. We’re looking forward to working with him. He will come into contention straight away.”
Limerick have netted just four goals in ten competitive outings this season and have now failed to find the net in five consecutive games. Mark O’Sullivan returned to the starting XI last weekend after a lenght hand injury and offered plenty of endeavour, despite the erratic service from midfield.
“Our lack of goals is a concern, of course. But we are hoping to be positive and get a goal or two. We want to be positive, try to score, and hopefully pick up the three points.
“Sligo have a very good squad. They spent very well in the off-season. They had the budget to bring in really good players. They have lads who have played in England and Scotland, good experienced players, and it will be a very good test for us.”
Sligo have lost five of their last seven league games, as they make only their fourth away trip of the season so far. Their home form has been particularly worrying, though Ger Lyttle’s troops have picked up four points on their travels.
Murmurings of unrest in the Rovers camp have been heightened with the news that Englishman Craig Roddan left the club this week. Roddan featured five times in the league this season, and clocked up 58 Premier Division appearances for the club.
Following Bohemians win over Shamrock Rovers on Friday, defeat for Sligo would see them looking upwards on a five point gap to both Limerick and the Gypsies.
Ger Lyttle, who is in the job 51 weeks today, spoke ahead of the trip to Shannonside after his team's 2-0 home defeat by Derry City last time out. “Last week we let our fans and a lot of people close to the club down. I’m the first to admit that and the responsibility that comes with it. It wasn’t good enough and completely unacceptable.
“We have tried to be positive this week and it has been. The players have been working hard, they’ve trained well. As I’ve said throughout I believe in them, their ability and I stand by it.
“We have to add to the mental side of it and I know we’re a lot better than what we’ve shown. There is not much between the teams in the league and I think it’ll be a tight game.
While the Markets Field pitch has received plenty of criticism for its poor surface, Lyttle believes that won’t be an issue.
“The pitch hasn’t been great apparently but it’s the same for both teams and we’ll not use it as an excuse – we have had enough of them – we have to go out and do enough to win the game and I believe we can do that.”
19-year-old Lewis Morrison misses out once more with an ankle ligament problem while assistant manager Kevin Deery begins a touchline ban.
Referee: Ben Connolly
Limerick defeated the Bit o’ Red 1-0 in the Showgrounds on the opening weekend of the season, thanks to a debut goal from defender Darren Dennehy.
When these sides played out a 0-0 draw at Markets Field last season, it marked the only scoreless draw at the venue since Limerick returned in 2015. Limerick’s previous home stalemate to that was in March 2014.
Limerick 2/1; Draw 2/1; Sligo Rovers 31/20
Limerick 1-1 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Eoin Wearen (groin)
Doubtful: Daniel Kearns (quad), Danny Morrissey (groin)
Injured: Lewis Morrison (ankle)
Suspended: Kevin Deery (assistant manager)
Assistant-manager Kevin Deery will serve a three-game ban for being sent from the bench in the closing stages of the game against Shamrock Rovers. pic.twitter.com/Amc0CtlaSA— Sligo Rovers (@sligorovers) April 12, 2018