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Karl Sheppard takes on the Galway defence. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Karl Sheppard takes on the Galway defence. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
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Unbeaten Cork City face three vital games in next eight days

Noel Spillane

Soccer

CORK CITY boss John Caulfield and his team face three big games in eight days beginning with Drogheda United at Turner’s Cross tonight followed by Sligo Rovers away on Monday night and then home to Shamrock Rovers next Friday.

City are still unbeaten after 13 games after that battling 1-1 draw in Galway but the Leesiders will be looking for a response tonight and the visitors could face a backlash.

On the injury front, Gearoid Morrissey is struggling to be fit with a hip injury he sustained in Galway, Steven Beattie has an on-going groin problem and Karl Sheppard is a doubt with a knee ligament strain though he played last week when due to see a specialist.

“Obviously Gearoid Morrissey came off with a hip injury up in Galway before half-time and he’s struggling. It’s unlikely he will make the game but he could be back for Sligo in the Showgrounds on Monday night.

“Steven (Beattie) has an on-going problem with an ankle ligament and he’s under pressure too and Karl Sheppard (knee) is in the same boat. Alan Bennett got back in last week and got some game time and we have Greg Bolger bursting to play if either Morrissey or Beattie are ruled out,” explained Caulfield who has appealed to the fans to come out in big numbers tonight.

“I just want to appeal to all our fans that we only have two home games left before the break so it would be great to see them out in force for the Drogheda game. It another massive game for us and this year our support has been phenomenal. We are going into a very tough week with Drogheda in town tonight and then we have Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers next week before we get to play Dundalk at Oriel Park before the summer break,” he added.

And once again the City manager has warned his troops against complacency against a team in the lower half of the table.

“Drogheda are seventh in the table and in a decent position. They have a very experienced management team in Pete Mahon and John Gill who have been around the league for years and they have been successful in the past.

“They are a great management duo, and with limited resources, they have built a good team in Drogheda. They have a lot of young lads coming through trying to break into League of Ireland football and trying to make a name for themselves and, other side of that, they have big game players in Killian Brennan, Sean Thornton, Stephen Elliot and Ciaran McGuigan at the back.

“They have a lot of energy in the team and they like to play on the counter-attack and they have a fairly solid defensive unit. The last time we played them up in Drogheda it was 1-1 and they had a man sent off so they will be no soft touch tonight. They are a team that’s well in with a shout of staying above the bottom three,” warned Caulfield who is looking for an immediate and positive response to events in the west of Ireland.

“Every point in this league is vital and we just need to bounce back and chase a win at home.

Galway are on a decent run and nine or ten games unbeaten but it’s our second last home game before the break and that’s why I am appealing to the fans to come out in big numbers.

We were disappointed with the draw because we want to win every week and we will chase the three points again tonight,” he added.

Drogheda will be seeking a first win in four in Cork but front man Gareth McCaffrey left the Co. Louth club by mutual consent this week.

They have Thomas Byrne (dead leg) and Colm Deasy (knee) ruled out but Gavin Brennan is back from suspension and Stephen Elliott returns from injury.

“No one is giving us a prayer but we believe in ourselves. Cork dropped points for the first time in Galway so maybe they’re at the start of a mini blip. We won’t be going down with a defensive mindset because that would only play into Cork’s hands,” said Pete Mahon.