Preview: Rovers begin final quarter of season

Sligo Rovers begin the fourth and final series of matches with a fixture in Oriel Park on Friday night in the SSE Airtricity League.

Rovers sit in third place in the table and clash with Dundalk for a fourth time. The teams met last week when Lewis Banks scored a winner in a close game.

In team news, Lewis Banks and Johnny Kenny return after missing last week’s defeat to Shamrock Rovers with minor injuries.

Garry Buckley serves a one game ban, while Shane Blaney is out with a foot problem. The latter is set for a return early next month.

Greg Bolger will have a late fitness test and is doubtful.

Liam Buckley said: “I was reasonably happy last week. We’d like to have our general play a bit better and create more chances but bearing in mind we were playing Shamrock Rovers who are the leaders, we did okay. It was a hard game but we competed well.

“There is a quarter of the season left and our position is a good one. That said, it’s a starting point from now to the end of the season we have to pick up our fair share of points in order to keep inside the top three or four.

“It certainly won’t be easy and the nature of the league is any team, at any time, can go on a run of games where they win matches. We’ve seen it with nearly all of the teams and from our point of view it’s about getting results and we know we’re capable of doing so.

“Dundalk did well against us in Sligo last week in what was a very tight game, they won the FAI Cup game deservedly on Tuesday and their squad is of the nature than even when missing players, you can still pick an XI with lots of quality and experience. We’ve all experienced it this season to have players out and indeed we are missing two centre halves in Garry and Shane this week. You have to get on with it and I’m sure that victory has lifted them and we have to be ready.

“We’re focusing on ourselves and how we approach the game. It’s great to have Lewis and Johnny back as they are top players and we’ll check on Greg this week.

“As I said, we’ve got these nine games to do all we can to get results. We’re really looking forward to them as well because the players have worked hard to get us to this point. We trained well this week and recovered from the busy period so we look forward to the game.”