Bohemians and Sligo Rovers come to Friday’s league game with varying form.
Bohs will be looking to build on wins in the league and cup last week while Sligo will be determined to prove that their two defeats were a blip.
Bohemian manager Aaron Callaghan is particularly looking forward to the challenge of facing the league leaders after a good week for his team.
“Any win breeds confidence,” he said. “It would be great to get a result. If we can take a big scalp it would set us up nicely for the second phase of league games.”
But Callaghan knows fully the strength of Friday’s opposition. “They still have their quality players. We need to be on our game to deal with them, particularly Danny North.
“Having worked with him last year at Pats I know a lot of his qualities. We need to keep him quiet and, if we can do that, we’re 80 per cent of the way there to stop them scoring goals.”
Bohemians have not generally been conceding goals from open play featuring the opposing forwards. Indeed, they have fewer ‘goals against’ than five of the eight teams ahead of them in the league table.
Many of those goals have come from set pieces, including contested referee decisions against them, as in the two goals conceded to Derry City, Callaghan noted.
“We have been working on defending against set pieces,” he said. “But even experienced players can sometimes switch off in these situations.”
Dinny Corcoran (groin injury) played part of a training game this week but faces a late fitness test. Dave Mulcahy (calf) also needs to prove his fitness.
Still out are John O’Connor (infection), Neil Harney (illness), Andy McNulty (hamstring) and Owen Heary (hamstring), who takes charge in the dug-out due to Callaghan’s one-match suspension.
With Harney out and Luke Byrne on duty with Ireland’s under-19s, Roberto Lopes will likely be called on again to cover at left-back, having featured in a different role in midfield early in the season.
“Roberto has been doing very well for us. He came in and did well against Derry, though he got a bit cramped up, perhaps due to the pace of the game,” said Callaghan.
“It’s great that we have been able to give younger players more experience and that they have stepped up to the mark.”