Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers
Bray Wanderers face the tricky task of taking on champions Sligo Rovers in tonight’s Airtricity League Premier Division clash at the Carlisle Grounds, kick-off 7.45pm.
Wanders have had a difficult start to the season and are already fighting a relegation battle with just two victories from their opening 12 games.
Pat Devlin’s side have been struggling with injuries throughout the season although things are improving in that department as Shane O'Neill is likely to be Bray's only absentee for the visit of Sligo.
Club captain Danny O'Connor and his brother Kevin, who have been missing for three and four weeks respectively, are back in the squad, while defender Shane O'Connor is also available for selection.
Wanderers can at least attempt to build on Monday’s away win against fellow strugglers Shelbourne and Devlin knows that the club must look forward going into the game against Sligo.
Devlin said: "We now need to move on from here. Isn't it a great game to have against the current league champions and league leaders.
"We are all looking forward to it and I expect the lads to respond after the win on Monday and we hope to carry on from here."
The league leaders got back to winning ways on Monday as they eased past title contenders Derry City 3-0 at The Showgrounds.
And Ian Baraclough’s side should be brimming with confidence as they take on one of the league’s struggling sides, as they attempt to stay at least three points clear at the top of the table.
Anthony Elding is back in the Bit o’ Red squad having served a one-game suspension following a red card against Shamrock Rovers, while Danny North made a return to contact training on Thursday for the first time since a serious knee injury against Spartak Trnava last July.
Seamus Conneely is closing on a return following a knee injury but will miss out on this game and Ciaran Kelly is out with a fractured sternum, however, Raffaele Cretaro has returned to full fitness and might feature.
And the game against Wanderers has arrived at the perfect time for Cretaro as he has scored eight times in his last 11 starts against Bray. The Tubercurry striker remains just one goal short of reaching 50 league goals for Rovers.
Looking ahead to the trip to Bray, Rovers boss Ian Baraclough said: "There has been a vibrancy in training this week with the win against Derry. There was a certain swagger amongst them again and I’ve had to pull the reins in at times to ensure we are in the best condition for Friday night.
“I think the lads are full of confidence after the manner of the victory and we hope to take it into Friday’s game."
Verdict: Sligo Rovers
Bohemians v Cork City
Bohemians will be looking to push clear of the relegation zone as they entertain Cork City in tonight’s Airtricity League Premier Division clash at Dalymount Park, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Gypsies will be looking to bounce back from Tuesday night’s defeat to UCD and victory tonight would see Aaron Callaghan’s side leap-frog Cork into eighth place in the table.
Bohs must plan without Keith Buckley, who is serving a suspension, but otherwise have no serious injury concerns.
Captain Owen Heary returned to the starting line-up on Tuesday after a long lay-off, while Stephen Traynor was back on the bench following a surgical procedure.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game Bohs boss Callaghan said: "They've assembled quite a decent squad but a couple of results have gone against them, they've conceded late goals here and there. We know if we win the game we go above them, which is a great incentive for the players. It was disappointing that our run came to an end, but we've got to get back on the bike and kick on."
Daryl Kavanagh and John Dunleavy return to the Cork squad for the trip to Dublin, having missed the Limerick game through illness, but Dan Murray will miss out.
Kevin Murray and Brian Lenihan remain sidelined, while Darren Dennehy will miss out through suspension following his sending off against Limerick on Monday.
City beat Bohemians 2-1 in Turner’s Cross earlier this season and manager Tommy Dunne will be hoping for a similar result tonight.
Dunne said: “Dalymount is always a tough place to go. We played extremely well up there last year for the first half; in the second half they came back into it but we had chances to win it.
"I’m told the pitch is starting to improve which should help us, but it will be a tough game. Bohs have some good young players, but it is a game that we must win.”
Verdict: Cork City
Dundalk v Shelbourne
Dundalk will be hoping to get back in touch at the top of the table when they take on lowly Shelbourne at Oriel Park tonight, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Lilywhites lost their 100 per cent away record on Monday night going down 1-0 to Shamrock Rovers but should bounce back at home this evening as they take on bottom side Shels.
Manager Stephen Kenny must plan without Chris Shields who remains out with a knee injury, while Mark Rossiter is also a doubt as he also recovers from a knee injury.
Kenny said: “The players have been excellent so far. They have given it everything and we can’t fault them. We have done exceptionally well in the opening third of the season. We have picked up some good wins and have got a good points total so far.
“We are working on being a little more consistent but that will come. It is important that we keep picking up points and home form will be key to that. We were unlucky against Rovers on Monday but it wasn’t our best night.
“We have to pick ourselves up now and go again. It’s a difficult game against Shelbourne. We’ll have to be at our best to get a result. We have to dust ourselves down and make sure we’re ready for the challenge”
Shels may have to travel with a makeshift squad for the short trip north as they must plan without Robert Bayly who is serving a suspension following the red card received at Thomond Park, while Glenn Cronin continues to be sidelined, suffering from an ankle injury, while goalkeeper Niall Burdon (hamstring) is also out.
And manager Alan Mathews has concerns over Paul Crowley (hamstring), Adam Hanlon (calf), Robert Cornwall (foot), Sean Brennan (ankle), Dean Kelly (groin) and Mark Leech (groin).
Derry City v UCD
Derry City entertain UCD in tonight’s Airtricity League Premier Division clash at the Brandywell, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Candystripes’ title challenge took a hit last Monday as they went down 3-0 to champions Sligo and they will be hoping to get back on track as they take on The Students this evening.
City must plan without Ruaidhri Higgins who is ruled out with a hip injury, while Thomas Crawley (groin) and Paddy Kavanagh (hamstring) are also missing through injury.
Shane McEleney is suspended following his sending-off in Monday's game against Sligo Rover, although Kevin Deery may return to the squad.
City hammered UCD 6-0 in the away fixture in March and manager Declan Devine will be looking for more of the same tonight. Devine said: "After events last Monday, it's great to be able to return to the field so quickly. We need to dust ourselves down and move onto the next big game and for us that's against UCD.
“We know what to expect from Martin Russell's charges, and despite a great result earlier in the season I expect this game to be very close indeed. UCD will come here looking to get revenge for that result and will be full of confidence after great wins against Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.
“For us we need to get back to winning ways as soon as we can and the fact we are at the Brandywell will be a great advantage to us."
The Students travel north without the services of injured trio Mick Leahy, Mark Langtry and Ger Barron.
UCD actually enjoyed an away win at the Brandywell last season, however, boss Martin Russell knows that his side are in for a tough night in Derry.
Russell said: "The Brandywell always provides a stern test to all teams. “We are travelling on the back of a hard-earned three points against Bohemians. An equally determined and positive approach will be required on Friday night."
Verdict: Derry City