Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley says his squad depth is going to be critical if his team are to stay with Dundalk this season.

Rovers beat Waterford 2-0 on Monday night to maintain their lead at the top, albeit on goal difference only following the Lilywhites' victory against Cork City.

The Hoops had the game all but wrapped up inside 20 minutes at the RSC, as they scored two goals, and the Blues were reduced to 10 men following Andre Burley's two yellow-cards.

Rhys Marshall's goal was certainly the pick of them, as he curled an effort from the edge of the box past Brian Murphy and into the corner of the net.

"We scored early and the sending-off kills them," Bradley told RTÉ Sport's John Kenny afterwards.

"We were quite comfortable from then on."

"It's a quick turnaround, and we believe the squad is strong. There's no point in having it if we don't use it.

"Rhys (Marshall) is a very good full-back, but he also plays midfield, and he scores goals from midfield as well.

"When he's in central (positions) he's dangerous, and he showed that tonight. It was great to get him on the pitch because he's had an achilles problem."

Watching on in the stands was Rory Gaffney, whose arrival at Tallaght was confirmed earlier in the day.

Bradley says it's important to keep all of his players on their toes.

"If you look at the top end of the pitch we felt we were one light," added the Rovers manager.

"The fact that he's played in the league and scored goals in the league, even though he's been away a few years, he knows what he's coming into.

"Hopefully we'll have him available for Friday."

And what a game Friday night promises to be, as two unbeaten teams go head-to-head. The defending champions and the pretenders to the throne.

Dundalk won the league with a victory over the Hoops at Oriel Park in September, but Rovers gained some revenge with an FAI Cup victory triumph Vinny Perth's side in November.

"It has the makings of a great game," according to Bradley.

"Two good sides. Every time we play each other it's a good game and I don't see Friday being any different.

"Hopefully we'll have a bumper crowd and we look forward to it."

Alan Reynolds (r) looks on

Waterford manager Alan Reynolds echoed Bradley's sentiments about the opening exchanges, admitting that it cost his side a chance at the points.

"We didn't start as well as we should have," he said.

"They're a young group, and I've just spoken to them there, but you can't not be ready from the off against a team like Shamrock Rovers.

"They played in front of us and (goalkeeper) Brian Murphy pulled off some good saves in the second-half.

"We spoke at half-time about keeping a clean sheet. What do you want us to do?

"Anyone who knows anything about the game will see that you have to sit-in and keep it tight.

"It's a learning process with us. We've had three difficult ties to start off with, and probably with our preparations before it started, that's the best we could have hoped for."

Watch Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk live from Tallaght Stadium on Friday evening on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ player from 7.30pm