Former Shelbourne manager Pat Fenlon believes Cork City are in danger of relegation ahead of the resumption of the SSE Airtricity League on Friday.
City are three points clear of bottom side Sligo Rovers and have the advantage of having already played away from home against the likes of Dundalk and St Patrick's Athletic.
But Fenlon fears investment from Sligo Rovers, who this week signed last year’s league top-scorer Junior, and are rumoured to be bringing in Stephen Folan, could make it a tough battle for City.
Fenlon told the RTÉ Soccer Podcast: "I do fear for Cork. We could do without Cork getting relegated to be honest. That doesn’t give them the divine right to stay in the league. They were very poor at the start but they did have a really hard start in fairness to Neale Fenn.
"They’ve signed a lot of players, a lot of loan players, and the concern now is if they are down there in a scrap against teams that are used to it like Finn Harps, will they have that experience?
"Waterford will have sights on being a little bit higher up the league. I think Waterford will be okay.
"I think (the league being shut down) has helped Sligo in that they had a lot of injuries at the start of the season. They have some of those players back now and made astute signings. I’m not sure if the squad Cork have at the moment is equipped for a relegation battle.
"You look at the job Ollie Horgan has done at Finn Harps over a period of time and they won’t want to be in another scrap. But for me it’s Harps and Cork that will be down there."
Conan Byrne also feels City will struggle over the next three months in what is a sprint to avoid automatic relegation at the bottom of the league.
Ninth place will take on a First Division side in a play-off.
Byrne said: "I’m surprised Liam Bossin hasn’t arrived back into the country yet from Belgium. He was their main goalkeeper for the first couple of games and did reasonably well. They are going to miss him.
"They could be in real trouble. I have serious reservations about Cork City being in the Premier Division next season.
"Sligo have signed Junior, they needed a striker up there. Ronan Coughlan was doing well and scored two goals in a friendly on Saturday and with Junior coming in as well, they have that potent strikeforce that could score goals in this league.
"Junior has proven that and I’m surprised Derry didn’t go for him again. That was a very interesting decision from Declan Devine, I’m sure he has his reasons. I think Cork will really struggle."
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