St Patrick’s Athletic must regroup for their European adventures as they look to get their Airtricity Premier Division title challenge back on track when they face Cork City in Turner’s Cross tonight (7.45pm).
The Saints have been out of league action 22 July as they enjoyed a long run in the Europa League that ended in defeat to Hannover 96.
With games against Sligo Rovers and Derry City postponed to aid their European exploits, thoughts must now turn to trying to reign in the nine-point gap the Bit o’ Red have opened in that time.
With a game in hand a re-arranged fixture with the leaders to come, and Sligo and Shamrock Rovers meeting tonight, this game represents a golden chance for Pat’s to claw themselves back into contention at the top.
They must cope with long term absentee Mark Rossiter (knee) while Stephen O'Flynn (rib) and Dean Kelly (groin) also remain out.
Jake Carroll is out with suspension but new signing Vinny Faherty is available and may be in line to make his first appearance of the season in his second spell at the club.
Cork deployed a reserve side for yesterday’s 3-1 friendly defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the Cross.
Colin Healy is still sidelined with the thigh strain that kept him out of the draw with Dundalk last week, while Graham McCarthy (ankle), Cathal Lordan (knee), Eoghan Murphy and goalkeeper Kevin Burns (both ankle) are also out. Striker Keigan Parker will serve a ban.
City are just eight points above bottom place after UCD’s win in Tolka Park against Shelbourne and Friday. Ten draws from 19 games have cost Tommy Dunne’s side dearly.
What the managers say:
Cork City manager Tommy Dunne: “In our last game against St. Pat’s, we drew 0-0 at Richmond Park after missing a penalty in the second half.
"I think the win was there for us on the day, but we did not take the chance when it presented itself.
“Pat’s have been playing some really good football under Liam Buckley, so it should be a good game, with both sides looking to play.
"I am hoping that on tonight we can go one better than a draw, as we have been leaving points behind us, particularly in the last few games.”
St Pat's manager Liam Buckley: “We're really looking forward to tonight’s game and we always like going to Cork because it's one of the best grounds in the league.
"The European thing was great while it last but it's over now. What it gives us is an appreciation of how tough it is against really good teams but we acquitted ourselves well overall.
"We can learn from it and use the experience to get back into the mix in the league starting on Monday.
"Cork are a good side who are in decent form at the moment. They play a good style of football and if we both play well it should be a very good game."