League leaders St. Patrick's Athletic host 2012 league champions Sligo Rovers on Sunday in Richmond Park as the Inchicore side look to edge closer to claiming the Airtricity League title, kick-off 5.15pm (Live on RTÉ Two).
The Saints know that a result against Sligo will give them an insurmountable lead over the Bit O'Red, leaving just the Inchicore side and Dundalk remaining in the 2013 title race.
With the first and third placed sides in the division set to face each other, Saints' fans are advised to arrive at Richmond Park early and purchase their tickets well in advance of kick-off
Roles have been reversed between the sides in comparison to last year's title race when Sligo led the Saints by six points with just three games remaining before the sides met in the Showgrounds.
This season it is Pats at the top of the league before the sides meet in Inchicore, and as Saints' skipper Conor Kenna told stpatsfc.com, it is a testament to the team that the progress has been made.
“It's a great turnaround. Obviously last year we went to the Showgrounds and needed to win to have any chance of winning the league. This year it is must win for them, so there's a lot more pressure on Sligo to get the points this time round. Hopefully this year there'll be a reversal of fortune and we can be the ones to get the win,” Kenna said.
With Sunday being a potential league decider, Kenna admitted that the Saints squad were in good mood and joked that the recovery from any knocks or niggles had sped up ahead of the big game.
“Yeah there are no suspensions this week and everyone is fit all of a sudden! Seriously though, training has been really good as everyone is in good spirits and we're all really looking forward to the game.”
“It's a great occasion for the club, and the league as well. As players, we want to play in big matches on a weekly basis, so for us it's just about keeping calm and going out and expressing ourselves.”
In team news, Liam Buckley confirmed to stpatsfc.com that he has a full squad to choose from, with the exception of Stephen Maher who is recovering from a broken leg.
Shane McFaul has recovered from an illness which kept him out of last week's win against UCD, while similarly midfielders Killian Brennan and Daryl Kavanagh are available having served one match suspensions last week.
Elsewhere Saints' keeper Brendan Clarke is set for 100th appearance for the club in all competitions if selected.
Ahead of Sunday's showdown against FAI Cup finalists Sligo Rovers, Liam Buckley spoke at length about the great support which the Saints' fans have given both him and his squad of late, commenting that he believed their backing will be important come kick-off time.
“Sunday's game promises to be a really great occasion in Inchicore, and I can assure everyone that it is one that both the player's and staff are all really looking forward to,” Buckley commented.
“Seeing Richmond Park packed to the rafters recently and the huge numbers last week out in UCD, is something that we've all really been grateful for during some of the games this season.
We're all hoping again to see another great crowd getting behind us from the first whistle to the last.”
“In terms of this weekend against Sligo, we'll be looking for the same professional performance from the players that they produced against UCD last week.
Training has been good all week and the lads have worked really hard, so please God that effort over the week will be rewarded and see us get the three points.”
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