Derry City will be looking to extend their unbeaten run when they welcome league leaders Dundalk to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
Declan Devine’s side thrashed Cork City 4-1 at Turners Cross last Friday night before their scoreless draw at Bohemians in what was a crucial match in the race for European qualification on Monday.
“We were excellent in Cork last weekend and although I felt the ludicrous amount of travel caught up with us in the second half at Bohs on Monday, we were full value for at least the draw there,” said Devine.
“Dundalk are a fantastic side, possibly the best this league has ever seen, and while a team like that demands maximum respect, we can’t stand and admire them.
“There is likely to be a full house at Brandywell for the game and there’s nowhere we’d rather play than with that passionate support behind us.
“We’re steadily improving ourselves and this is an opportunity to see how far we’ve come against the best team in the country. That is the challenge for our squad on Friday night.”
New signings Conor Davis, Darren McCauley and Mark McChrystal are all available for selection against Dundalk. However, both Patrick McClean and Michael McCrudden miss out through injury.
Now eight points clear at the top of the table, league leaders Dundalk could make it eight wins on the bounce (14 out of 15) should they defeat fourth-placed Derry City at the Brandywell Stadium.
The Lilywhites followed up from their crucial 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night with a comprehensive 3-0 home win over struggling Waterford on Monday evening.
“It was a great win for us on Monday and the aim was of course to get three points no matter what way we played but I felt we played well against Waterford,” said Jamie McGrath.
“We probably didn’t pass it as well as we would have liked but it’s the three points that we wanted and we are delighted with that.
“It was great to get my first start since I got back from injury and getting 90 was good to get under my belt. I feel good after it.
“I was lucky enough to get on the scoresheet on Monday, happy with my goal. Coming into Europe and the schedule that we have now to get a full game was a good boost for me.
“It’s going to be a tough game in Derry but we have a good record there in the last few years. We seem to play well up there.
“We’d like to take that into Friday night and that will give us confidence but we are expecting a difficult game, we just want to get the win and hopefully we can.”
It is unknown whether or not new signing Andy Boyle will receive international clearance in time for this fixture, but midfielder Jordan Flores will definitely miss out once again due to a hip injury.
There are also doubts over the fitness of Patrick Hoban, Jamie McGrath and Sean Murray.
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
A win for Dundalk would make it eight consecutive league wins for Vinny Perth’s side. It took his predecessor Stephen Kenny five years to achieve such a winning sequence, when he did so in 2018.
Dundalk are now unbeaten in their last ten visits to the Brandywell. The Lilywhites have won nine times, drawn once and scored 25 goals since their last defeat at the Derry venue in October 2012.
Michael Duffy, Dean Jarvis, Georgie Kelly and Patrick McEleney have all in the past played for Derry City, whose goalkeeper Peter Cherrie has previously made over 200 appearances for Dundalk.
Derry City 15/4; Draw 13/5; Dundalk 3/4
Derry City 1-2 Dundalk
Injured: Patrick McClean, Michael McCrudden.
Injured: Jordan Flores.
Doubtful: Andy Boyle, Patrick Hoban, Jamie McGrath, Sean Murray.