WITH Steven Beattie having returned to action in Friday’s win over Bray Wanderers, Karl Sheppard is the biggest injury worry for Cork City, ahead of Sunday’s FAI Cup final against Dundalk, at the Aviva Stadium.
The Dubliner hadn’t featured since he was forced off with an injured hamstring in the drawn cup semi-final against Bohemians, at Dalymount Park.
Beattie played 56 minutes, before being replaced by Conor McCarthy, and with another full week of training under his belt, the hope will be that he is fully fit to take on the Lilywhites.
For winger Sheppard, things have become a bit more concerning. He was not in the squad for the Bray game, having had to go off late in the Bohs replay, suffering from a hamstring problem.
“Ideally, he would have played tonight, but it wasn’t possible, so he’s 50-50,” said assistant manager, John Cotter, after the Bray game.
“Hopefully, he can resume training, at some stage next week. Steven got a good hour and he did well. Beatts is an honorary Corkman, at this stage. He’s a great lad and everyone loves him here and rightly so. Hopefully, he gets no reaction to that.”
Joining Sheppard in the uncertain category is midfielder Gearóid Morrissey, who was brought off against Bray.
“Gearóid was a bit tight at half-time and we thought we’d give him ten minutes. Luckily, he called it himself, really,” Cotter said. “That’ll be assessed over the next few days. Hopefully, he’ll be fine.”
If Morrissey is fit, it would give the manager, John Caulfield, a decision to make, as Morrissey, the captain, Conor McCormack, and Jimmy Keohane would all be vying for the two central midfield spots. Keohane has enjoyed his best season, and he is surely in pole position. If McCormack doesn’t start, then Alan Bennett is likely to captain the side, having taken the armband for the semi-final replay.
Meanwhile, Dundalk have doubts over the league’s top scorer this season, centre-forward Patrick Hoban, who suffered an ankle injury in the game against Bohemians on Friday.
“We’ll have to see,” said Dundalk manager, Stephen Kenny. “Patrick has never played in the Aviva Stadium. He is a very determined guy, so I imagine he’ll be fine.”
Robbie Benson (knee and ankle) and Jamie McGrath (groin) are also doubts for the league champions, but both are considered less serious than Hoban. If Hoban doesn’t make it, then former UCD striker George Kelly could be in line to start up-front, though Ronan Murray — who scored twice against City in the President’s Cup — would also challenge for the spot.