Cork will need all their energy to repel title-hungry Rovers
Manager John Caulfield knows what his side are up against when league leaders arrive
Cork City manager John Caulfield: ‘We need a huge, passionate crowd and a high-energy performance.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
And with Rovers seven points clear at the top, albeit with two more games played, the Cork City manager believes his opposite number Stephen Bradley finally has the makings of a title-challenging side this season.
“In the last couple of years coming down here, and particularly last year, they played cagey and got a draw,” said Caulfield of Rovers.
“This year, they’re high-flying and scoring lots of goals. You’d imagine they see this as an opportunity to put more distance between us and them.
“For the last couple of years, Stephen has been building for a title challenge. This seems like the year it could happen, with the way they’ve started.
“We need a huge, passionate crowd and a high energy performance,” added Caulfield, who prepares without injured defender Colm Horgan, midfielder Daire O’Connor and striker Matty Gillam.
Defenders Alan Bennett, Seán McLoughlin and Dan Casey all need to prove their fitness.
Rovers travel south without defender Sam Bone, out for a month with a hamstring injury sustained in their EA Sports Cup defeat on penalties at First Division Bray Wanderers on Monday night.
Bradley gives fitness checks to Roberto Lopes, Trevor Clarke, Ethan Boyle and Dan Carr.
We’ve deserved more for our play recently and a win would certainly give us a lift
Sent off in last week’s defeat at Bohemians, St Patrick’s Athletic striker Mikey Drennan, who has scored the only three league goals they’ve managed in the league this season to date, is suspended as the Inchicore side look to stem the flow of four straight defeats when champions Dundalk come to Richmond Park.
Gary Shaw is set to deputise for Drennan. Winger Dean Clarke is ruled out with concussion while Brandon Miele faces a late fitness test on a foot injury sustained at Dalymount Park last Friday.
“We’re due a win,” said St Patrick’s manager, Harry Kenny.
“We’ve deserved more for our play recently and a win [on Friday night] would certainly give us a lift.”
Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney remain out for Dundalk, though head coach Vinny Perth has fellow midfielders Chris Shields and John Mountney fully fit again.
Friday night’s fixtures (7.45)
Cork City v Shamrock Rovers (Live on RTÉ 2)
Finn Harps v Derry City
St Patrick’s Athletic v Dundalk
UCD v Waterford
Athlone Town v Drogheda United
Galway United v Limerick
Shelbourne v Bray Wanderers
Wexford v Longford Town