Understrength Rovers set to call on U19 players again for Bray test

It is third-from-top versus second-from-bottom this evening in the Carlisle Grounds as Bray Wanderers host Sligo Rovers.

The Bit O’ Red will again be without the injured Daniel Kearns, while the availability of John Russell is in doubt as his wife is due to give birth to their first child.

Rovers boss Gerard Lyttle had just ten senior outfield players at his disposal in Monday’s narrow defeat to league-leaders Cork City, with five U19 players making up the substitutes.

He admits it is tough for youngsters to make the step up so quickly…

Meanwhile, bottom side Finn Harps will look to build on Monday’s impressive defeat of St Pat’s in Ballybofey when they host Limerick at Finn Park this evening.

The Rovers game is underway from 7.45pm, with the Harps game starting fifteen minutes later, and there will be updates from both games on Ocean FM.

Rovers manager Gerard Lyttle said: “We did miss John on Monday night, he is a big player for us in experience, the options he gives and he possesses so much quality as we know. We may be without him again on Friday and we’re keeping in constant contact with him. It’s one of those things you can’t control so we’ll see and we wish him well of course.

“It was so disappointing on Monday. You would accept if you lost the game in a manner where you are cut open with a good passing move but I don’t think Cork will get two easier goals all season. The first one was errors from three or four players and then straight in from a corner. 

“We were all frustrated but I do think we are getting there. When Cork have to really adapt their tactics, make changes and adjust their game to just narrowly beat you, it shows we are getting somewhere and we need to start converting our good play into points on the board.”

He said of Bray Wanderers: “It’s another massive test. We had them watched, I watched them myself on Tuesday night, and they are not in a false position by any means. 

“They have individual players to win matches, they have goals throughout the team despite not scoring on Tuesday. They may have dropped some points in the last couple of weeks but they will continue to win games throughout the season and we have to play at a high level to come away with something.”

He said on his time of the club so far and working with just 12 available players against St Pat’s/Dundalk: “I can see the progress in the team. I just really wish I had come in earlier to be honest. I wish I had that extra few weeks because early on we have had to work on the fitness of the players. It wasn’t what it should be if I’m honest and match fitness has started to come, especially with the amount of games we have played in the last few weeks. 

“I have had to control the training too with that busy schedule, you could see with the likes of Raffaele Cretaro for example where I didn’t want him to play for 90 minutes against Dundalk but we simply had no choice because of our squad size and then the following week in training it catches up with him in the early part of the week. 

“You have to hold them back and again this week after playing Monday we have kept that in mind. It’s natural with the squad size we have. We’ll be looking to add to our numbers and I’m aiming to have news on that very soon.”