Preview: Rovers on the road to Cork

Sligo Rovers are on the road on Friday as they travel to take on Cork City at Turner’s Cross, live on WATCHLOI from 7:45pm.

The Bit O’ Red make it back-to-back wins last week, beating Shelbourne 2-1, and moved above Cork in the table.

Two points separate the teams going into Friday’s game, a place where Rovers hold a good record, including a 4-2 victory last season in which Ronan Coughlan scored twice.

Ocean FM will also broadcast live commentary on the game, with the first half online on and the second half on FM.

In team news, John Mahon (broken leg) and Johnny Dunleavy are out (knee).

Will Seymore (hamstring) and Garry Buckley (groin) face late fitness tests. Lewis Banks is recovering from a groin problem and will also be assessed pre-game.

Teemu Penninkangas returns from a back injury

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe has finished his quarantine process and is now part of the group. He is in the squad on Friday.

Liam Buckley said: “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.

“I see more improvement in this group as well. 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.”

With Junior joining the squad, it means more competition up front for the manager.

“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.”

Buckley also spoke about the policy of bring in academy players to first-team training days.

“We’ve introduced some of the academy players to the first-team squad. It gives them a feel for it and what they are aspiring to. We’ve invited quite a few in over the last month or so.

“Johnny Kenny for example is a very bright prospect. He has a lot going for him in many aspects of his game. Rossa McAllister and Darragh Reilly played in friendly games as well. They’re all bright prospects in truth.

“They’ll be playing in their underage teams and they’ll see the levels to get to. The opportunities are there for the young players at the club. There’s lots of great talent and I have to give credit to the coaches because they are nurturing it very well.”

Injured: John Mahon (broken leg), Johnny Dunleavy (knee)

Doubtful: Garry Buckley (groin), Will Seymore (hamstring), Lewis Banks (groin)