Derry City will look to pick up their first win in more than a month when they entertain Sligo Rovers at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
Declan Devine’s side were beaten 2-0 by Dundalk last time out at Oriel Park, with goals in either half from Sean Murray and Patrick Hoban doing the damage.
Last week’s meeting with St Patrick’s Athletic was postponed due to international call-ups for David Parkhouse and Eoin Toal, and they both come back into contention.
Jamie McDonagh also comes back into the squad for the first time since copping a four-match ban for lashing out at Shamrock Rovers’ Trevor Clarke in round two.
"It's 17 games in little over 8 weeks which will test most teams but it'll be great for the supporters,” said manager Declan Devine, who described McDonagh’s ban as ‘crazy.’
“Every match is big and we have to utilise our squad as best we can to cope with that.
"Sligo have drawn in Dundalk and won at Harps so they'll be keen to take their form on the road with them.
“As with every time we go out, we have to be prepared for anything and be at our best if we want to win.
"I've said many times this season that our supporters have a huge role to play. They've been brilliant so far and I hope they're back in numbers for this one as that will lift the players for sure."
Patrick McClean is unlikely to feature against his old club, having just returned to training, while Michael McCrudden is out long-term with a broken metatarsal.
Sligo Rovers return after the international break with a point to prove after a 3-0 hammering away to Shamrock Rovers in their previous game.
They saw last Friday’s meeting with Waterford postponed due to international call-ups, meaning they didn’t miss out on Dante Leverock, who was away captaining Bermuda.
The time off has allowed Liam Buckley’s side, who haven’t fully gelled this season, some extra time to work on consolidating their playing style.
“We were quite disappointed with our performance last time out,” Buckley told the club’s media team.
“I didn’t particularly view the break as a good or bad thing but it did gives us a bit more time to work on certain things and try to get better in areas.
“We are much better than that display last game and we have to show that. There isn’t much between Derry and ourselves in the table and that big, slick pitch will lend to a good game.
“I have no doubt it’ll be another hard one but one we can do well in. We’ve had a bit of time to work on things and Dante Leverock and Niall Morahan have returned okay from international duty.
“We’ve eight games in a month after this with a tight squad. You can be sure everyone will play their part and we have nobody in the squad not capable because they are all good players that will demonstrate as much.
“They can show that against Derry and it’s a game we’re really keen to get stuck into.”
Ed McGinty is ruled out with a finger injury, while David Cawley and Ronan Murray will both undergo fitness tests after picking up knocks.
Referee: Tomás Connolly
The sides met five times last season under different managers, with Sligo winning three of the four league meetings while Derry triumphed on their way to lifting the EA Sports Cup.
Remarkably, three of those wins came away from home, with Sligo’s 2-1 win in the opening league fixture the only home win as they did the double in the Brandywell.
Gerard Lyttle and Kenny Shiels were both dismissed in the off-season, leaving Liam Buckley in charge of Sligo and Declan Devine in the Derry City hotseat.
Derry City 8/13; Draw 11/4; Sligo Rovers 4/1.
Derry City 1 – 1 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Michael McCrudden (metatarsal).
Doubtful: Patrick McClean.
Injured: Ed McGinty.
Doubtful: David Cawley, Ronan Murray.