When you look at the league table Friday evenings game between Cork City and Sligo Rovers is a relegation battle.
Cork, struggling at the bottom of the table with only one win this season, do have the boost of Tuesday nights FAI Cup win over Longford Town.
Sligo for their part are on a great run, with two wins since the restart over Derry City and Shelbourne.
Both clubs brought in some new recruits during the break, as Sligo added last season’s league leading scorer Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, while Cork brought in strikers Scott Fenwick, Kit Elliott and Conor Simpson, however Simpson is still quarantining. The new additions will significantly enhance both squads.
It’s a massive game for both sides, as a victory for either could go a long way to consolidating their place in the Premier Division.
Cork manager Neale Fern said ahead of the game: “ It’s a game we believe we can win, and it’s a game we will try and win. It won’t be easy, Sligo Rovers are a very good team with a great manager so we just need to make sure that we concentrate on ourselves and do what we can do, and we’ll see how that takes us.”
Cian Bargary and Cory Galvin are likely to miss the game but Deshane Dalling returns from suspension.
Sligo boss Liam Buckley is looking for further improvement in his side despite winning their last two games: “I see more improvement in this group. We’re doing very well individually and it’s collectively of a passing game and ball retention that we’re looking to get up to speed. I do see it coming, especially since the restart, but it can get better. We’re asking for more because we know it is in us. We’ve won two games, this league will grant you no favours so we have no choice but to improve if we want to get up the table and be consistent in our performances and results.
“I think when you look at the table and where the teams are then it is a six-pointer. We’re expecting a very hard game. There’s very little between seven or eight sides in the division. Cork got through in the FAI Cup which will lift them and they haven’t conceded a goal in consecutive games as well. Neale is trying to impose a style of play, it doesn’t happen overnight and they will improve throughout the year.
The addition of Junior will mean more competition up front and Buckley said: “It is important. I look to every player we put out on the pitch that I want them to have a desire to win.
“I know that whoever starts a game will bring a lot to the team. Ronan Coughlan, Ryan De Vries and Jesse Devers have done well but we also have Ronan Murray back to fitness, Junior in with us now and young Mark Byrne and Darren Collins have done really well. It gives us options. We’ll also be tested squad-wise throughout the year so every one of those players is going to play their part.
In team news, John Mahon and Johnny Dunleavy are both out, while
Will Seymore and Garry Buckley and Lewis Banks face late fitness tests. Teemu Penninkangas returns from a back injury.