CORK CITY interim manager John Cotter is hopeful that he will have close to a full squad to choose from for tonight’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trip to face St Patrick’s Athletic (7.45pm).
The game at Richmond Park – which will be televised live on RTÉ – is City’s fourth in Dublin in the space of 12 days, most recently losing 2-0 to Bohemians in Monday’s EA Sports Cup quarter-final.
Cotter is awaiting the results of fitness tests on some key players, but expects to have a clean bill of health.
“Obviously, Karl Sheppard and Conor McCormack missed Monday night, as well as Gary Boylan,” he said.
“They’ll have to be assessed, hopefully, they’ll clear up with a bit of rest. We’ve had a heavy schedule and the pitches are getting hard, which is something that all clubs are having to deal with.
“I would hope that they’d be fine, they’ve been in with the physio.”
City go into the game eighth in the table, having lost nine of their 19 games. Tonight’s clash begins the third set of fixtures, with the Rebel Army having gone down 1-0 to Pat’s in Inchicore on the opening night of the season back in February.
Pat’s are just four points ahead of City in fifth but Cotter is expecting a stiff challenge from Harry Kenny’s side.
“Pat’s are a good team,” he said.
“Against Dundalk, they conceded a freak goal in the last minute and I was up at their game against Derry. They hung on and defended well in the second half.
“We know it’ll be a tough game up there and we’ll have to be at our best and defend well.
"We’ll concentrate on ourselves as we always do, but Pat’s generally play good football and they’ve been playing with two centre-forwards lately too, which will pose its own problems.
“In the game up there, they scored early from a penalty – a soft penalty from our side – and they dug in for the three points.
"Down here, in the first half we played well and created chances and could have been 2-0 up, but in that period we were conceding soft goals and that was another one.”
Meanwhile, it is being reported that both Preston North End and Portsmouth are monitoring City defender Seán McLoughlin.
The centre-back’s contract expires at the end of the season and there is a growing likelihood of a summer transfer to England.
See P36 for more.