By Ed Leahy
Athlone’s quest for their first league point of the campaign is unlikely to arrive on Easter Monday as they welcome high-flying Dundalk to Lisseywollen.
Mick Cooke’s side have shown great improvements in recent weeks, narrowly losing to Derry City and Limerick, however, the test from Stephen Kenny’s Lilywhites should prove too tricky at this juncture.
And Athlone must plan for the clash with a long injury and suspension list with Aidan Collins (shoulder) and Neil Harney (dead leg) both definitely out, while Paul Skinner serving his automatic one match ban for his sending off against Limerick.
Derek Prendergast has received an additional one game suspension for his sending off against Bohemians and Alan Byrne who has reached the four yellow card mark so will also sit this one out.
Stephen Quigley returns after sitting out Friday nights defeat to Limerick due to suspension.
Dundalk travel with a strong squad, however, they will sorely miss captain Stephen O’Donnell who picked up a nasty injury in Friday draw with Shamrock Rovers.
O’Donnell will miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury and his abscence will leave a gaping hole in the Dundalk midfield that manager Stephen Kenny will need to fill should he wish to maintain his title charge.
Kenny’s side head to the midlands with no suspensions to worry about and Chris Shields will come into contention for a return to the starting XI after he recovered from the injury which saw him start from the bench on Friday.
Otherwise, Dundalk travel with a full squad and while Athlone are likely to break their points duck sooner rather than later, it won’t be against Dundalk.