St Patrick's Athletic are back in SSE Airtricity League action as they travel across the Liffey to face Dublin rivals Bohemian FC in Friday night's Dublin derby in Dalymount Park (kick-off 7.45pm).
After a two week break, the Saints return to action knowing that a win against the Gypsies will almost guarantee European football for next season for Liam Buckley's side as they aim to finish within the top four.
In team news, the Saints are without the services of a number of players due to injury and suspension with Brendan Clarke recovering from a broken finger, while defenders Kenny Browne and Sean Hoare serve one match bans and midfielder Greg Bolger beginning a two match suspension.
Elsewhere, Saints' defender Lee Desmond is unavailable due to his international call-up to the Republic of Ireland U21 side for their European Championship qualifier against Lithuania on Friday in Waterford.
"We're down a few bodies through suspension and injuries, but we're still going to look to go out and win the game. Fans from both teams love these games as they can be frantic games and you see lots of passion as it's a Dublin derby. These are the games you want to see," Buckley admitted when speaking to stpatsfc.com.
"But we've got to make sure we apply ourselves well and play our game and to our strengths. We've had two tough games against Bohemians this year, and Friday will be no different. We'll have a good crowd behind us as we always do so hopefully we can put in a performance similar to the one in Longford the last day and get the three points."
For Saints' skipper Ger O'Brien, Friday's game is a huge opportunity to go a long way to securing European football, with the 31 year old admitting that the squad are hoping to finish higher than their current position of fourth in the league table.
"It's a long break for us leading into this game," O'Brien told stpatsfc.com when reflecting on the two week gap between Friday's match against 'Bohs' and the Saints' recent 3-0 away win against Longford Town. "But we've had some time on the training ground to work on things we might not have had the chance to do otherwise, so training has been good lately."
Dublin derbies are always big occasions, and as a former player of the Phibsboro club, O'Brien knows better than anyone what the game means to players and supporters of both sides.
"There's a lot to play for tomorrow. After last week's FAI Cup results, both teams know that fourth spot will get either side into Europe so it's an important three points up for grabs. But from our point of view, even after tomorrow night and with some of the top few teams to play each other, we know if we can win our remaining games that we'll finish higher up the table. That's our aim now, finish as high as we can. If we can beat Bohs on Friday, we know we'll be on course to doing that."
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