Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny will be forced to shuffle his pack yet again for the trip to Thomond Park to face Limerick on Saturday.
The Lilywhites return from the Airtricity League’s mid-season break just six points behind leaders St Patrick’s Athletic with a game in hand but they will make the journey south without the services of the suspended Stephen O’Donnell and Pat Hoban while Keith Ward will miss the rest of the season with a cruciate knee injury.
There are also doubts over John Mountney (knee) and Stephen McDonnell although the latter should recover from a knock picked up in training on Sunday.
“We’ll have to modify the team with Hoban, Ward and O’Donnell out but we have other strikers to come into the picture”, said Kenny.
“Tiarnan Mulvenna has been terrific for us. Vinny Faherty hasn’t scored too many goals but he has put in some fantastic individual displays this season. He was terrific against St Pat’s in Inchicore and is not a bad one to call upon.”
Limerick went 2-0 up in the corresponding fixture at Oriel Park earlier in the season before late goals from John Dillon and Tiarnan Mulvenna rescued a point for Dundalk. And Kenny is wary of the threat posed by Stuart Taylor’s side.
“We have to make sure we’re ready. Limerick have good players. When they’ve had a few injuries their team hasn’t been as strong. They lost in Tallaght and Inchicore just before break so it came at the right time for them to get players back. We’ll have to be at our best.
“Going to Thomond Park is a new experience for everyone but the pitch is decent which will suit us. We have to be ready to go at it again.”
Kenny spoke about his hopes for the second half of the season and he made reference to the fact that few people outside of the Dundalk camp think they are capable of mounting a realistic title challenge.
“In some quarters we are deemed unfashionable as a club”, he said. “One of the national Sunday papers predicted that we would finish comfortably in 5th. People outside don’t really think we are capable of staying the distance.
“But my own expectations are high”, he added. “You have to be driven. That is why you are involved in the game. Everyone at the first-team has to be driven to be the best they can be.
“The players have been terrific and I am very proud of their efforts to date but it is only halfway. Nothing gets handed out at halfway. We aren’t interested in plaudits now. We want to push on.”