Declan Devine will be looking for his team to cut the deficit to three points behind second place Shamrock Rovers with a win over the Hoops at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday night (kick off 7.45pm - buy tickets here).
The Candystripes' boss is looking for the home supporters to help his team in the last ten league games of the season.
"We're pretty much looking at ten cup finals between now and the end of the season, and if we can replicate the atmosphere that we had here in the early games, then who knows what is possible" said Devine.
"These are the games everyone wants to play in and we're looking forward to it. This is a chance for us to gauge where we're at right now as we aim to compete with the likes of Rovers and Dundalk on a regular basis.
"We just hope that our fans can get right behind us on Friday night and get the Brandywell rocking again. I know that would give the players a huge lift.
"This is a really tough match for us. Rovers have been building their team for a few years now and you can see how that experience is proving invaluable for them.
"They were very good in their European games; they play on the front foot and have really good options going forward.
"Despite that, I believe there has been very little between us in our meetings so far this season. Both teams like to get the ball down and play so this has the makings of a decent game for the fans."
Midfield Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe should return to give Devine more offensive options. The 24-year-old player has scored nine goals from his 27 competitive games so far this year.
"Junior has been excellent for us this season but has been struggling to shake off a knock. We gave him some time off and told him to go back to London for a few days and now he's eager to get going again.
"I am more than happy with the options we have available so there's no need to risk anyone if they need a bit more time."
Shamrock Rovers take the trip north on Friday to take on Derry City. The Hoops won in the Ryan McBride Brandywell earlier in the season with Aaron Greene scoring the only goal of the game.
Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley speaking ahead of the game was complimentary of the Candystripes noting “Derry are having a very good season.
“Declan (Devine) is doing a great job up there and he has got a good group of players together. It’ll be a difficult game but we’re ready to go and win three points.”
Having played 65 minutes in the cup last week, Graham Burke is likely to make his first league start for the Hoops since his return to Rovers. Prior to his move to Preston, Burke scored four goals in one game last season against Derry City becoming the first Hoops players to manage that feat in 26 years.
“It’s great to have Graham back,” said Bradley. “When we signed him he had a lot of other options but he pushed hard to make this happen. It’s fantastic when you have players of Graham’s ability with that hunger and desire to play for us. In patches he did really well and could have had two goals.
Rovers beat Finn Harps 1-0 in the cup last Friday and have been drawn at home in the second round against First Division side Drogheda United (who dumped Rovers out of the cup in the first round last year).
“Looking at the draw, especially early on in the competition it’s important to get a home draw and thankfully we have. It’s one to look forward to.
“We had enough chances to make it more comfortable,” Bradley said when talking about the 1-0 first round home win over Harps earned thanks to a Dan Carr goal mid-way through the first half.
There is speculation that Carr may be heading to Cyprus as Apollon Limassol, the side who knocked Rovers out of Europe, are interested in signing the striker.
“You would have liked to make it more comfortable but we obviously didn’t and they were always in the game. But we got the win and we’re in the next round.
“We felt it would be a comedown after the European games and you could sense it on the night, it was a little bit flat in terms of the atmosphere, the build up and the buzz around the game. You could see that in parts of the performance.
“It was a good ball from Ronan Finn and a good finish by Dan Carr for the goal. Harps hit the post at the end so they had a couple of chances in the game and were always in it. I thought overall we were just okay but the important thing was getting the win.”
The Hoops after their trip to Derry on Friday face another long journey on Monday as they travel to Waterford. Bradley spoke to extratime.ie after last Friday’s cup win over Harps outlining how unhappy he was that the Waterford game was re-fixed by the FAI so close to the game in Derry.
“It is not good enough. It is not acceptable. This is about player welfare." - Stephen Bradley is not happy about how the fixtures are falling for @ShamrockRovers https://t.co/GQX8Q3yZwV pic.twitter.com/fWoBxWfd1q— Extratime.ie (@ExtratimeNews) August 12, 2019
Referee: Robert Hennessy
The Hoops have won two games this year against the Candystripes – a 2-0 victory in the first game in Tallaght this season, when former Derry City player Aaron McEneff scored a paneka penalty, and the 1-0 win in the Brandywell in April. The last time the sides played it was a 2-2 draw with Derry coming from two goals down to earn a point in Tallaght in June. August 2017 was the last time Derry beat the Hoops – that was a 2-0 win in the Bogside.
City striker David Parkhouse is sitting second in the League of Ireland goalscoring charts with ten goals – has scored five goals in the last eight league games. In the League Cup, Parkhouse has six goals from three games including a hat-trick in the recent EA SPORTS semi-final win over Waterford.
Hoops midfielder Aaron McEneff is joint third in the race to become LOI caponcannoniere with eight league goals. He is level with Derry midfielder Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.
Derry 21/10; Draw 21/10; Rovers 5/4.
Injured: Neil Farrugia
Doubtful: Leon Pohls, Joey O’Brien.