St Patrick's Athletic take on Derry City in the Airtricity League Premier Division at Richmond Park tomorrow (Friday) night knowing that a victory will move them into the top three. (kick off: 7.45 pm)
Both sides have endured similar seasons statistically with 8 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats from their opening 15 fixtures which sees them sitting on 28 point alongside Bray Wanderers.
The Saints have won 6 of their last 7 league games and are undefeated in their last 9 in the league, a run that includes a 1-1 draw at the Brandywell in April.
Pete Mahon will be hoping for a good performance from his side after last Monday's EA Sports Cup Quarter Final defeat to Cork City FC and looks set to make a number of changes with Gary Rogers, Brian Shortall, Jake Carroll, Anto Murphy and Derek Doyle all looking to return to the starting line-up.
Definitely out for St Pats are Conor Kenna (knee) and Derek Pender (foot). Pender is the only outfield player to have played every minute of the Saints' 15 league games this season but that run is set to come to an end.
Derek Doyle has missed the two cup games against Crumlin United and Cork City FC with a dead leg but has responded well to treatment and should be fit to play.
James O'Brien has been out since the Shamrock Rovers EA Sport Cup game and made a substitute appearance against Cork on Monday but is likely to play some A team games before returning to the first team.
“Derek Pender took a kick to his instep against Crumlin. He has had an x-ray and there's nothing broken or no fracture but the Derry game and Monday's game against Dundalk will probably come too soon for him.
“Derek and Conor Kenna are the only two out for us and everybody else should be fit.
“There's no point in me saying anymore on injuries because that's really it. Every week I read that the opposition have six players definitely out or fourteen doubtful.
“They must all want to play against St Pats because they all seem to climb out of their sick beds and make a miraculous recovery by the time kick off comes around, despite them being definitely out.
“We're trying to keep players fresh with all the fixtures being played and the European games not far away. It's a juggling act and it can upset the team but our results have been good and the squad is better equipped than I thought.
“We've three big games now in a week with Derry tomorrow, Dundalk on Monday and Drogheda next Friday.
“After tomorrow's game we've three away fixtures in a row starting with Dundalk and ending with Galway on Monday week.
“We know a win tomorrow will see us in the top three but we want to be top of the league, never mind the top three; that's the goal.”
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