Bit o' Red set for Setanta Sports Cup opener
Sligo Rovers will play their first competitive match of the year when they take on Crusaders in the Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final first leg at Seaview on Monday night.
This will be Rovers’ fifth consecutive appearance in the cross-border competition.
Crusaders are the only side from the Irish League to defeat Rovers in the competition with a 2-0 win two years ago in the same venue in a semi-final.
Rovers won the second leg 2-1 in The Showgrounds as the Irish League side advanced.
The Bit o’ Red will be without Gavin Peers (cruciate ligament) and Kieran Djilali (knee). Danny North may not be risked with a groin problem.
The club are waiting on clearance for new signing Sean Maguire and are hopeful it will come in time for Monday night’s game.
Eric Odhiambo, Danny Ledwith, Paul O’Conor, Kalen Spillane could make their debuts.
Richard Brush and John Russell could make their first appearances since re-joining the club.
Manager Ian Baraclough said: “I'm really pleased with where we are fitness wise. Hopefully we will acquit ourselves well in the first leg.
“We have had three pre-season matches on the same surface as Crusaders play on so I didn’t mind playing those games with this clash in mind.
“We have played on better surfaces in pre-season that we will at Crusaders but a lot of the squad were in Seaview two years ago so they know what to expect.
“We know what type of game they will bring to the evening and we have to be ready and prepared for that.
“It is great for us at this time of year as part of our preparation to go and play against technically good players and you also have to be able to combat a physical threat which we have to be ready for.
“It would be nice to progress in this competition. I'm not sure how much you can say you are All-Ireland champions if you win it but that is what the competition stands for.
“It's a good competition. I've enjoyed being part of it and to go and win it would be great for this football club.”