Preview: Rovers back in The Showgrounds

Sligo Rovers are back in The Showgrounds for the first time in 22 weeks as Shelbourne visit in the SSE Airtricity League, kick-off 5pm. Buy the game on WATCHLOI here.

Rovers returned to action last Friday with a 2-0 victory against Derry City, the first points of 2020.

Shelbourne have made a strong return to the Premier Division, winning three matches for six, including an impressive 1-0 success over Finn Harps on Tuesday.

It is the first League game between the teams since 2013, when Rovers won all three matches 2-0. 

In team news, Danny Kane has trained all week and could be back in the squad for the first time since October 2019.  Alex Cooper has also played a full part this week after missing the Derry game with a knock. 

New signing Sigitas Olberkis could also be in the squad as he awaits international clearance. 

Garry Buckley (groin) and Teemu Penningkangas (back) face late fitness tests. Buckley was injured during the second half in Derry. 

Lewis Banks is ruled out with a groin injury which has hampered his season so far. Liam Buckley is hoping for Banks to resume training next week. 

Ronan Murray and Johnny Dunleavy returned to the bench last week and are available. 

John Mahon is not ready to return to action following his leg break in February. It is hoped he can make a full return in the coming weeks.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe will sit out as his quarantine only ends at the end of week. 

Liam Buckley said on win over Derry: “It was a great effort last weekend. We’re looking for that again on Saturday. That is what it takes to win games in this league. We know how hard it is to win a game and follow it up, results since the restart have shown that. If you’re not on it, you’ll get turned over.  There were many good displays and that collective effort won us the game. We passed it well in periods in Derry and we’d certainly like to find more of that over a course of the game.  We’re still around the bottom of the table, so while it was good to pick up the points, it isn’t going to count for a lot if we don’t follow it up in games to come.”

On away wins becoming very regular in the league: “All that matters is the performance we produce, home or away. We produced one last week and we’ll have to do it again. Perhaps it may even out in time, but it isn’t really entering my thoughts. What is relevant is just how competitive the league is. That was the same at the start of the year and we were well in a lot of matches that we didn’t get the result in. We approach the game trying to get the result.”

On the Waterford game being postponed and facing Shels: “We were told on Monday morning that the game was off as we were about to conclude our preparations. It isn’t something to dwell on. When it happened we turned our attention to this game. Shelbourne had a good win on Tuesday, their start is a credit to them but my concern really is how we approach the game and what we do in it. We’ve seen some of what we can do, I’d like to get that better and get up the table. It’s going to be a tricky game and we’ll have to approach it right.”

On Junior not being available: “It took a few days to get Junior in because a work permit and visa are more complicated in the Covid landscape so his quarantine period hasn’t expired yet. He will be available for our next game but not on Saturday.

“From the outset of this we made a point of being transparent on these issues, both in terms of our five foreign players only being part of the squad for two weeks because they were in quarantine, and stating if new signings can play or not. 

“That isn’t something we should be getting credit for or seeking it, it’s our responsibility to the Sligo people and the commitment made to bring football back. These guidelines are for the entire country and are not something to mess around with. We rigidly follow protocols on a daily basis and will do so on Saturday. My hope is every club does so without failure from now to the end of the season. It is the only way the league can be completed this season and keep everyone safe.”

On availability: “We’ll see where we are on Saturday with some of the players who have come back from injury, one or two carrying knocks and Sigitas coming in. They could all be available and it’s nice to have a couple of extra players in the matchday group. That hasn’t been the case for a lot of this year. We had a good week of training and the lads are looking forward to another game. “ 

Returning: Danny Kane (foot), Alex Cooper (thigh)

Out: Lewis Banks (groin), Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe (quarantine), John Mahon (broken leg)

Doubtful: Garry Buckley (groin) and Teemu Penningkangas (back), Sigitas Olberkis (awaiting clearance).