Shamrock Rovers look for Grace to defend against Derry
New signing Lee Grace central to Rovers’ response after poor display against Bohs
Shamrock Rovers’ Lee Grace. Photograph: Tommy Dickson
New signing from Galway United Lee Grace comes straight into the centre of Shamrock Rovers’ defence against Derry City at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night, as manager Stephen Bradley demands a big response from his players following last week’s poor display in losing to Bohemians.
Defeat to third-placed Derry would leave Rovers with some work to do in the chase for an automatic Europa League spot.
“If they beat us they’re eight points ahead. But I think people are making a lot of that,” said Bradley, whose side has a game in hand.
“There is a long way to go in the season yet. We won the league on the last day here. Things happen in the [run-in] that are strange. Obviously, we’ve got to improve on last week. We were poor and got beat.
“We’ve got to up our game massively on what we gave last Friday to beat Derry. They’re a good side. Other than last week, we’ve been really good here all season. We just know we have to be better than we were against Bohs.”
Roberto Lopes will be out for another week at least following a successful operation to fix a testicular torsion. Fellow defender Sam Bone is also sidelined with a fracture just below the eye, sustained against Bohemians.
Captain Ronan Finn returns to Rovers’ midfield having missed the last two games due to an ongoing groin condition.
Derry, who’ve won their last three matches without conceding, make an enforced change due to Nicky Low being suspended. Harry Monaghan is his likely replacement to partner Aaron McEneff in the centre of their midfield.
Runaway leaders Cork City will also be looking for a response following their first defeat of the season, to Bohemians last Monday, when they travel to bottom-of-the-table Drogheda United.
Cork manager John Caulfield waits on central defenders Ryan Delaney and Alan Bennett while midfielders Jimmy Keohane and Stephen Dooley also need to prove their fitness.
Drogheda are missing the injured Gavin Brennan, Kevin Farragher, Ciarán McGuigan and Stephen Elliott, though Richie Purdy and Ryan Masterson return. “We know that games are running out for ourselves,” said Drogheda manager Pete Mahon, without a win in 14 games.
“The other teams around us have not only strengthened in the transfer window, but also picked up results over the last few weeks. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck from the footballing gods, we can cause an upset.”
Friday night’s fixtures (7.45 unless stated)
Bohemians v Bray Wanderers
Home: 11/8; Draw: 11/5; Away: 21/10
Drogheda United v Cork City
Home: 10/1; Draw: 9/2; Away: 2/9
Dundalk v Limerick
Home: 3/10; Draw: 4/1; Away: 17/2
Finn Harps v Galway United (8.0)
Home: 6/4; Draw: 21/10; Away: 2/1
Shamrock Rovers v Derry City (Live on eir Sport 2, 8.0)
Home: 29/20; Draw: 23/10; Away: 15/8
Athlone Town v Wexford
Home: 17/10; Draw: 5/2; Away: 29/20
Cabinteely v Waterford
Home: 9/2; Draw: 14/5; Away: 8/13
Shelbourne v UCD
Home: 7/5; Draw: 23/10; Away: 19/10