Derry City can put themselves back into the title picture with victory over Dundalk at Oriel Park this evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
The Candystripes are just two points behind Dundalk in second place, having played a fewer game than their opponents, and a win tonight would give City a real chance of making the end of the season interesting, especially with champions Shamrock Rovers coming to the Brandywell next week.
Tonight’s game will have a bit of extra spice to it after Derry swooped in to sign former Dundalk centre-half Mark Connolly just days after he ended a loan deal at Oriel Park. There is sure to be an interesting reception for Connolly and manager Ruaidhri Higgins, but the City boss is only interested in the three points.
“It’s a good game with two good teams,” he said. “Both teams will have a go at each other and it normally makes for an exciting game so hopefully we can come out on top.
“We know that they are a very good side and that they have real strength but we have good players as well and hopefully we can really go down there with good organisation but also play on the front foot as well.”
Will Patching is a doubt for tonight’s game due to an ankle injury, while winger Ryan Graydon has been ruled out.
Michael Duffy, however, has returned to full fitness and could make his first City start against his old club.
Victories over both Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers in the next eight days could well propel Derry right into a title race again in the final months of the season, but Higgins would not be drawn on that possibility just yet.
“We’ll see how the next few weeks go and I’ll be able to give you a more accurate answer,” he said.
“Regardless of what happens on Friday night, it’s not going to decide anything really but a win down here would give us a really good foundation to go and attack the rest of the season. But we’ll see what happens on Friday and I’ll be able to give you a better answer then.”