Following their first win of the season last weekend, Drogheda United have a full squad to choose from for the first time.
The Drogs go into the Louth derby following a superb come from behind victory over Cork City at Turners Cross last weekend. That followed up an opening day defeat to champions Shamrock Rovers although the Boynesiders were very impressive in the loss and even took the lead.
Former Lilywhite Paul Crowley returns to the squad following injury in the Malone Cup match in February. The home side can also welcome back Eric Foley to bolster their midfield as they prepare to do battle at Hunky Dory Park. Their recent form makes them slight favourites going into the tie but as always with derbies, nothing is guaranteed and form goes out the window.
With a clean bill of health reported, it gives manager Mick Cooke a selection problem for the first time this season, however it is a problem he is happy to have.
"It's great to have a fully fit squad to choose from, I have some selection headaches ahead of the game but I'm happy with that. We managed to play a full practice match and it was very competitive. We are looking good going into the game, he said.
"None of the lads need motivation for this game. We haven't beaten Dundalk in Drogheda in the league in some time and we all know what it means to the fans, so we do owe them one. Everyone is really fighting for their place in this fixture"
"The Louth derby is always a great occasion and I expect a good atmosphere on Friday night."
After picking up just one point from their opening two games, the Lilywhites go into the Louth derby with just one point and no goals scored.
No doubt the loss of captain Chris Shields has played a part in Dundalk's poor start to the season however the club are hopeful that the new signing will be available to make his debut and add some well needed strength to the midfield. Gary Shanahan is unavailable meaning that manager Seán McCaffrey will have to change his starting eleven for the first time this season. Defender Derek Foran is a doubt but will be given every chance to prove his fitness. Players from the under 19 set-up are once again expected to be involved.
Last Friday Dundalk came unstuck against a very impressive St. Patrick's Athletic side who outplayed them at Oriel Park. The performance by the Lilywhites was dismal and fans will be hoping of a drastic improvement in the first competitive Louth derby of the season.
Dundalk's struggles in front of goal is a concern for the away side as they look to pick up their first victory of the season.
Dundalk assistant manager, Darius Kierans, a Drogheda native himself, is expecting a similar kind of game to the Malone Cup match a month ago.
"We played a month ago in the Malone Cup match and it was pretty competitive. They won but a draw would have been a fair result, even though we made changes at half-time, he said. It was a tight game and I am expecting the same on Friday. A tight pitch and not a great surface but we're going there to prove a point after last week."
Drogheda have got off to a good start. They got a good result in Cork and probably should have taken a point from Rovers. We just need to get our first win."
Referee: Rob Rogers.
Drogheda United are looking for their first league victory against Dundalk at Hunky Dory Park since a 1-0 win in January 1998. Drogheda did manage a home victory in the FAI Cup tie between the sides back in 2004 coming out on top with a 3-2 win.
Drogheda United have eight former Dundalk players in their 2012 squad - Tiarnan Mulvenna, Johnny Breen, Paul Crowley, Shane Grimes, Stephen Quigley, Peter Hynes, Declan O'Brien and Chris Kerr. Dundalk have just one former Drog in their squad - Eoghan Osborne.
Drogheda United have won only one of the 12 league meetings since Dundalk returned to the Premier League in 2009 and only one of the last 14 including FAI Cup. That sole victory came last June when goals from Dinny Corcoran and Philip Hand gave the Boynesiders a 2-1 win.
Drogheda United 6/5; Draw 11/5; Dundalk 11/5.
With Drogheda's good start to the season and Dundalk's inability to score goals, it all points to a Drogheda victory. 2-0 to the home side.
Drogheda United Injury News: None.
Drogheda United Suspension News: None.
Dundalk Injury News: Gary Shanahan (unavailable), Chris Shields (doubt), Derek Foran (doubt).
Dundalk Suspension News: None.