Finn Harps have worries at the centre of their defence ahead of the visit of Mervue United on Friday night (kick-off 8pm).
Both Thomas McMonagle and Keith Cowan are suffering injuries but manager Peter Hutton believes the odds of the former playing are much better than the latter.
McMonagle picked up an foot injury against Wexford Youths at home but has been involved lately and was in the Harps team that played Longford last weekend. Cowan also played in that game but hobbled out of Flancare Park after suffering an ankle injury.
Last season, Cowan broke an ankle in the first fixture of the campaign against Limerick FC but the damage is not anticipated to be quite so bad now. That said, he’s unlikely to play against Mervue on Friday.
“Thomas McMonagle still has a sort foot,” Hutton said yesterday. “He keeps telling us it’s fine but it’s still not 100 per cent. We know that he’s on the mend, though.
“On the other hand, Keith Cowan left Longford Town last weekend on crutches. His ankle was badly swollen and he will be assessed when that goes down a little bit. At this stage I’d say he’s struggling.”
Harps’ other injury worries concern Paul McVeigh, who has a knee injury, and Marc Brolly has a similar complaint ahead of the visit of the Galway side.
Last week, Harps bounced right back into the promotion push with a fine 3-2 away win at league leaders Longford Town.
Sean McCarron, Kevin McHugh and an own goal from Willo McDonagh gave Hutton’s team a 3-0 win but they were made sweat in the closing stages as Mark Salmon and Michael Isichei pulled back goals for the midlanders.
It was Harps’ first win away from home in the league this season and it was a result their manager feels can spur them on.
“It was a good result, although one that was a little to close for comfort at the end,” Hutton said.
“There was certainly a little bit of squeaky-bum time as they say but all in all, we certainly deserved the points on the night.
“We were 3-0 up and actually had chances to extend that lead but we delighted with the result against a good side and one that are at the top of the league.”
Longford have lost twice this season now and on both of those occasions they’ve come up short against Harps.
The side from Flancare Park are still top of the tale on 20 points, while Mervue have 17 and Harps 16. And with Longford going to Fahy’s Field the weekend after next, while Harps travel to Wexford Youths, it makes for an interesting couple of weeks.
“Last week’s result should give us a shot in the arm and it was a great one for confidence,” Hutton added. “It helps us keep on a coat-tails of the couple of sides above us in the league right now.
“Confidence is a huge element of being successful in football. If a player or a team is confident then they are enjoying their football and that’s hugely important.”
Mervue and Harps drew 2-2 in their meeting earlier this season in Galway as Ciaran Gallagher saved a penalty.
First-half goals from Mervue’s 16-year-old starlet Ryan Manning and striker partner Brendan Lavelle were cancelled out by Harps in the second period through McMonagle and a McHugh penalty.
“Mervue are certainly more than the dark horses they were perceived as last season,” Hutton said of Friday’s opponents.
“They’ve made a very good start to this season after bring in a number of good players and are where they are on merit.”