Shamrock Rovers will be seeking to close the gap on their opponents and title challengers, Cork City, when the pair clash at Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 8pm).
Pat Fenlon’s side come into the game on the back of a big win over Dublin rivals St Patricks Athletic before the mid-season break, so Rovers will be looking for another big display and look to prove they are able to keep pace with the likes of Dundalk and Cork.
Rovers are currently in fourth place with a total of 28 points on the board. That is eight behind Cork, so a win would be big for the Dublin side and would also reaffirm the belief that they can compete with the best in the country, which has been the norm for this Dublin club over time.
Shamrock Rovers are without Luke Byrne who’s been ruled out for the remainder of the 2016 season. The Hoops are also without Gary McCabe and Killian Brennan who are both suspended. Evan Osam and Danny North are both ruled out through injury.
Speaking to shamrockrovers.ie ahead of the game on Friday, Rovers boss Fenlon said: “When your backs are against the wall in games, those are the games you need to pick up some points, accept you’re not playing well, dig in and come away with the points.
"We haven’t done that in games such as Wexford Youths, Derry City, the likes, Finn Harps was a bit different, however, as we feel we deserved more than just the point, we should have won that game, but that’s football when you don’t take your chances you won’t win. We created enough to win the game so disappointed with that."
Cork City are heading into this game in a fantastic run of form and they will be looking to keep their winning run going in Tallaght on Friday, which currently stands at eight on the trot. Their most recent was perhaps their biggest of the season so far, in what was a statement of intent made against title favourites Dundalk.
Speaking at the club's weekly press conference, City manager John Caulfield gave his thoughts on the game, saying: “After being away for a couple of weeks, it is a good game to have. If it was not such a big game, there might be a danger of guys taking their eyes off the ball, with the European draw and everything, so I think it is an ideal game for us.
“They [Rovers] are probably looking at it from the point of view that, if they win, they are back within five points of us, which puts them back in with an outside chance of the league. They have integrated a lot of new players and a lot of younger players into their team. Going to Tallaght is never easy, you have to perform. We are looking forward to it and we need to be on our game.”
In team news, John Kavanagh is back in training but is unlikely to feature for another couple of weeks, while John Dunleavy has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Michael McSweeney is also rated as a doubt.
The most recent meeting between the sides saw Cork City come out on top after a 2-0 home win. However, the last time these two faced in Tallaght, Rovers won on a 3-0 scoreline.
In the total amount of games between the teams in the league played when Rovers were the hosts, the Hoops have won 17 of those, with City winning 15 and 11 draws.
In the total amount of games played between the sides, 88, Rovers have scored 105 goals and Cork have got 104 goals.
Shamrock Rovers 9/4; Draw 9/4; Cork City 6/5.
Shamrock Rovers 1-2 Cork City.
Injured: Luke Byrne, Evan Osam, Danny North.
Suspended: Killian Brennan, Gary McCabe.
Injured: John Dunleavy, John Kavanagh.
Doubtful: Michael McSweeney.