Waterford United and Dundalk go head to head in tonight’s promotion/relegation play-off second leg at the RSC with a place in next season’s Airtricity League Premier Division up for grabs, kick-off 7.45pm.
Tuesday’s first leg finished all-square with the two sides playing out a very entertaining 2-2 draw at Oriel Park, which means it’s a winner-takes-all clash tonight in Waterford.
Waterford boss Paul O’Brien must plan without striker Peter Keegan after the striker twisted his knee in Dundalk on Tuesday.
John Kiely is also ruled out with an ankle injury, while midfielder Peter Higgins is a major doubt as he is struggling with a hamstring strain.
Experienced defenders Seamus Long and John Frost return to strengthen the Blues squad after serving a suspension.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game, O’Brien said: “We have a great belief in our own ability and fear no one, and we travelled to Dundalk on Tuesday in great spirits.
“Our squad was tested by injuries and suspensions but every player played his part.
“The 2-2 result means we now play in the RSC with our destiny in our own hands.
“We can look forward to the game in the knowledge that we are well capable of achieving what all Blues supporters dream of.”
The Lilywhites travel south without the service of midfielder Stephen Maher who serves an automatic one-match suspension following his red card on Tuesday night.
Not sure if Dundalk caretaker boss Darius Kierans (pictured below) was watching Tuesday's first leg as he thinks the score is 0-0. We know what you mean, Darius...
And caretaker boss Darius Kierans has several injury concerns going into tonight’s clash as centre-halves Liam Burns, who limped out early in Tuesday’s first leg, and Derek Foran, who failed a fitness test before kick-off, are rated doubtful, as are central midfielder John Mountney and top scorer Gary Shanahan.
Paul Walsh is another doubt, while young striker Bob McKenna remains out through injury.
Kierans said: “Waterford’s away record is much better than their home record. They have to come out and play.
“Credit to them, they came to Oriel Park and tried to play as well so they deserve every credit. But the sending-off ruined the game. We’re still there, we go into Friday with 11 men and the bigger pitch down there might suit us better.
“The bottom line is, it’s 0-0 going to Waterford.”
There is no away goals rule in the promotion/relegation play-off so should tonight’s game end all-square, extra-time and then penalties will decide who plays in the Premier Division in 2013.