Keith Cowan returns from suspension to give Finn Harps options at the back against Mervue United at Fahy’s Field on Friday (kick-off 7:45pm).
Cowan was banned for last Friday’s 0-0 draw against Longford Town at Finn Park having picked up four yellow cards over the course of the season.
Thomas McMonagle also missed that encounter with the league leaders having aggravated a foot injury the week previously and hasn’t trained this week.
And with another man who can play centre of the defence, Damien McNulty, also out for the foreseeable future having dropped glass on his foot, manager Peter Hutton was happy with a clean sheet last Friday.
An inexperienced central defensive pairing of Josh Mailey and Aaron O’Hagan did extremely well against Longford.
“It was certainly more workmanlike than in recent weeks,” Hutton said. “The lads that came in did very well and with no real improvement on the injury front from this week to last, we will have a similar squad for the match at Mervue, with the exception of Keith who is back.”
That means that midfielder Michael Funston remains sidelined with a hamstring complaint and there’s a chance Hutton might continue with the 4-3-3 formation from last week.
Johnny Bonner was another player who did well enough to keep him within the manager’s thoughts.
Harps’ reserves were due to take on Derry City away from home in the Ulster Senior League last night, while the first team squad trained.
Harps haven’t won in six in the Airtricity League First Division with their last victory coming against Mervue in Ballybofey in May.
Harps came from two goals down, when Ryan Manning - and Brendan Lavelle were on the mark, to snatch a 2-2 draw at Mervue in March. McMonagle and Kevin McHugh were the Harps goalscorers.
“Mervue are a decent team and a bit like ourselves this season in that they made a good start but struggled then for a while.
“But they’re unbeaten in their last two now and are starting to put a run together. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do here and last week was a good point.”
As well as midfielder Pat McCann, who hails from New York, Harps have also signed Lee Toland, Shane McGinty and Donal Rodgers.
Full-back Toland was previously on the books of Newcastle United and St Johnstone native McGinty has returned to Finn Park following a spell at Sligo Rovers, while teenagers Rodgers kept goal for Keadue Rovers.
Harps also learned their FAI Cup third round opponents this week when they were paired with Cobh Ramblers on the weekend of August 25.
“You’re always happy to get a home draw,” Hutton said. “It’s a little like the last round when we were home to Wexford, another side we are familiar with.”