Limerick FC will be looking for their first win in eight matches with the visit of Sligo Rovers to the Markets Field on Saturday evening in the Airtricity League Premier Division (6.30 pm).

Limerick are one place and two points better off than Saturday night’s opponents but the Bit O’Red have played one game fewer. It is a game of huge significance for both clubs. Although Limerick supporters were expecting a tough season, there was a lot of optimism surrounding Sligo in the North-West and many are surprised to see them struggling once again.

The Shannonsiders enter the game off the back of a poor 0-1 defeat at the hands of first division side Cobh Ramblers in the EA Sports Cup on Monday night. A late Ben O’Riordan header capped off a miserable evening for a surprisingly strong Limerick team.

During the week, manager Tommy Barrett announced the signing of central midfielder Conor Clifford who spent last season with Dundalk where he made seventeen appearances. However, Clifford was suspended in October 2017 after he admitted an FA charge in relation to betting which occurred during his lengthy spell in England. Like many current Limerick players, the former Chelsea youth player will be aiming to resurrect his career on Shannonside.

Limerick native Barrett was clearly delighted with the signing and despite the lack of football for Clifford in recent months, midfield is an area of the squad which needed strengthening. When speaking to the club’s official website regarding the signing, Barrett stated:

“We are delighted to have Conor on board. He is a good signing. We have a light squad and when a player of Conor’s ability becomes available it is great to be able to have him. Hopefully he can kick-start his career again from here.”

The home side will be without the services of Eoin Wearen once again but Daniel Kearns and Danny Morrissey will undergo late fitness tests before the game on Saturday. Kearns has been absent since the draw with Cork City.

Limerick have failed to score in their last five competitive fixtures. The last goal arrived through Billy Dennehy in a draw with Cork City. Despite the positivity in relation to the return of striker Mark O’Sullivan, the former Cork City man is not a prolific goalscorer and has yet to score for the Super Blues.

Last week, Limerick started with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation in Dublin. However, Bohemians dominated possession and looked menacing which forced the management team to revert to the 3-5-2 formation used against Waterford a week previously.

Barry Maguire has struggled in his first few appearances for the club. As a result, it is essential that centre-back Darren Dennehy is fit to partner Tony Whitehead with Killian Cantwell moving to midfield if Limerick are to employ the 4-2-3-1 for such a big game. However, Barrett has shown courage to change the shape and personnel when it has failed to work in the past. Therefore, another surprise may be sprung on Saturday for the crucial game.

Sligo arrive at the Markets Field following a 2-0 defeat to North-West rivals Derry City at the Showgrounds last Saturday. Manager Ger Lyttle is frustrated by the teams start and was livid with the result last week. Speaking to the club’s official website, Lyttle said:

“Last week we let our fans and a lot of people close to the club down. I’m the first to admit that and the responsibility  that comes with it. It wasn’t good enough and completely unacceptable.

Lyttle is confident that his side can turn it around starting with a win at the Markets Field.

“The pitch hasn’t been great apparently but it’s the same for both teams and we’ll not use it as an excuse – we have had enough of them – we have to go out and do enough to win the game and I believe we can do that.”

Striker Lewis Morrisson will miss out with an ankle injury while assistant manager Kevin Deery will begin his three match suspension after being sent to the stands in the 1-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght.

2018 Meetings: The sides have locked horns once already on the opening day of the season at the Showgrounds in Sligo. Limerick emerged victorious courtesy of a second-half Darren Dennehy header to give Tommy Barrett his first victory as Limerick manager.

Referee: Ben Connolly