DROGHEDA UTD v ST PAT'S ATH, 7.05pm - Live on RTÉ Two
Drogheda will be without Declan O'Brien for the visit of St Pat's. Michael Schlingermann, Michael Marks and John Sullivan are all back and available for selection.
Manager Mick Cooke is looking forward to the game on the back of their EA Sports Cup victory last weekend: "We enjoyed last Saturday, but the lads got back into training very quickly in preparation for Friday night.
"Our season is far from over and there's still a lot of work to be done. This is a big game for everyone, we all want to keep the pressure up on Sligo Rovers.
"Liam Buckley and I are both out to win this while I'm sure Sligo will be hoping for us to draw. All the games between us this season have been close, having beaten them in Inchicore in the League we will want to get another one over them at home.
"They are obviously coming into this game having won their game in hand on Tuesday night and confidence will not be an issue for them.
"But one thing Saturday has done for us, is get the monkey off the players back about beating Rovers, we lost to them three times this season and to finally beat them will do wonders for our confidence.
"We will be hoping that we get a similar crowd from Saturday night, Pats will bring a good crowd with them and we will need as much fans in attendance as possible, especially for the remainder of the season."
Following the Saints’ midweek win over Shamrock Rovers, Liam Buckley reported that other than a few knocks sustained, his side has no additional injuries.
The side remain without the services of Mark Rossiter (knee), while Dean Kelly, Hernany Macedo, and John Russell are all doubts. Pat's are, however, boosted by the return of Chris Forrester who is available following a one match suspension.
Speaking to stpatsfc.com ahead of Friday’s crucial game, Liam Buckley spoke of his delight of the midweek victory over the Hoops in Richmond Park and of the test that Drogheda would pose.
"Tuesday’s win was really key as it leaves us in a good position ahead of the game in Drogheda.
"There’s a lot at stake on Friday as a win for either side will leave them in a strong position for second place and move closer to Sligo.
"Drogheda have had a fantastic season to date, their EA Sports Cup victory was thoroughly deserved and in terms of the league, they are third on merit.
"Mick Cooke has done a tremendous job and they’ve given us four tough games to date this season, and we are expecting no different on Friday night."
UCD v BOHEMIANS, 7.45pm
UCD goalkeeper John Kelly needs surgery groin injury and will miss the rest of the season.
Striker Graham Rusk made his return in Derry was a serious injury to his shin but he has had a little set back and is a doubt for Friday. He did not train this week.
Tyrone McNelis and Tomas Boyle as doubts but manager Martin Russell has an otherwise fully fit squad to select from.
On UCD’s recent form, Russell revealed: “We are very pleased with our run of late, with five wins from our previous six league games, but we realise that we have to continue the push right to the end of the season and try to finish as high up the table as we can.”
“Our performance in Derry was rewarded with three valuable points and it’s been quite a while since the club has been able to take a victory from The Brandywell.”
On the run in: “After Friday we play St. Patrick’s on Monday night and we have to play all the teams above us. We will be underdogs in each match and even in the run in but it’s great to have an almost fully fit squad to pick from after our injury problems earlier in the season.”
With ex-UCD player Keith Ward suspended, Aaron Callaghan’s selection choices are slightly narrowed, but Derek Pender returns from suspension and Dinny Corcoran played himself into contention in a friendly earlier this week against Friday’s opponents.
Corcoran scored four times in a 6-3 win over UCD and could be competing with Kevin Devaney (22 on Wednesday) for a starting place.
Against the Students on Monday, Bohs fielded several of the players who have had less game time, including new signing Garreth O’Connor. He came off early in this week's friendly with a hamstring strain and will not feature at the Bowl
Ryan McEvoy returns from ankle injury and ex-UCD player Evan McMillan, now as crucial in attack as he has been in defence, faces a late fitness test for a knock he took last Friday.
Looking ahead to the trip across the river Liffey said, manager Callaghan said: "UCD have some very talented young players and they’re a well organised unit. When they hit form they can beat anyone.
“Their levels of fitness are very high. They train like full-time professionals. They have their facilities on-site and they can fit their training in around their schooling, which is an ideal model for any club.”
SHAMROCK ROVERS v DUNDALK, 8.00pm
Graham Gartland and Conor Winn both remain out of the Hoops squad with back injuries, while Pat Sullivan is suspended for the game.
Director of Football Brian Laws, is targeting a first win since he came to the club: "Thankfully we don't have too many injury worries, so that gives me a chance to have a look at a few different options.
"We are all looking forward to the game, it's my first home league game since I came in and I'll be expecting a similar performance to the second half on Tuesday night against St Patrick's from the players.
"We need to put in a good, solid performance and get the win under our belts. We'll give Dundalk the due respect that they deserve, but as far as we're concerned we'll be concentrating on going out there and getting the three points."
The Co Louth club will be without centre-half Derek Foran and striker Mark Griffin through suspension for the trip to Tallaght.
Griffin is serving an automatic ban following last Friday’s controversial sending-off against Shelbourne, and will also miss next Tuesday’s trip to Derry City due to the accumulation of four yellow cards.
On a night when 33-year-old Liam Burns could make his 75th league appearance for the club, the Lilywhites will be without young winger Lorcan Shannon who is unavailable due to the terms of his loan agreement from Shamrock Rovers.
Top scorer, eight-goal Gary Shanahan (thigh) is doubtful once again having missed last week’s visit of Shels.
The Louth club will also again have to do without Garreth Brady (ankle) but fellow central midfielder Peter Thomas (thigh) and right-back Robbie Gaul (knee) come back into contention following injury.
Caretaker boss Darius Kierans wants his side to recover from the trouncing handed out by the Hoops earlier this season. "Tallaght is a great place to play. It’s the best ground in the League of Ireland and there is always a great atmosphere.
“We had a bad time there earlier in the season, losing 6-0, but hopefully the players can put that right. We have a lot of young players and that kind of game will have been a good learning curve for them.
“It’s important that they learn from going to places like Tallaght, and hopefully they can do themselves justice.
"We have already gone to The Brandywell and Richmond Park this season and won, as well as Dalymount Park in our last away game, so I think we can face Shamrock Rovers with some confidence.”
SHELBOURNE v BRAY WANDERERS, 8.00pm
Anto Murphy will again be missing for Shelbourne having received an additional two games suspension as a result of his sending off against St Patrick's Athletic.
He will be joined in the stands by Stephen Paisley who has reached four yellow cards and is suspended for this game.
Doubts continue about the fitness of Philly Hughes and Philly Gorman, with groin and hip injuries respectively. A decision on their availability will not be taken until Friday evening. Stephen Sheeran will once again make the step up from the U-19 Elite team for this game.
Speaking ahead of the game, Shels boss Alan Mathews said: "Bray had a good result against the team at the top of the table. It’s always difficult against any team in this division and Bray are no different.
"The players know the importance of the game and we will go into it with confidence and a positive attitude, having picked up the three points last week in Oriel.”
Kevin O'Connor who missed Bray's defeat to Cork City and the draw with League leaders Sligo Rovers last Friday through suspension, returns to the squad for the trip to Tolka Park. O'Connor's return and with no injuy worries it means that Bray have a full squad to pick from.
Speaking during the week about the draw with Sligo Rovers, Director of Football Pat Devlin described it as a good display from his charges. He added " We just need to find the net."
Looking ahead to Friday, Devlin is looking for a change in fortunes. "Shelbourne have been a difficult side for us this season, they have been our bogey team. I hope we can get the bit of luck that has been missing."
In other news from the Carlisle Grounds, former manager Eddie Gormley has been added to the Bray coaching staff until the end of the season and will work with the first team.