Limerick FC host Sligo Rovers at the Markets Field on Friday night with a 7.45 kick off. The game represents the beginning of the 2017 Airtricity League Premier Division season and the Super Blues will be hoping to make a big impression upon their return to the top flight of Irish football.
Limerick FC manager Martin Russell has been busy in pre-season adding eight players to the first-team squad ahead of what promises to be an exciting and nerve-wracking season for the Limerick faithful.
New signings Brendan and Dean Clarke, Ian Turner, Chiedozie Ogbene, Bastien Hery and Rodrigo Tosi have featured regularly in pre-season whereas Tommy Robson only signed on Monday on loan from Sunderland.
The availability of the new signings will certainly provide the Limerick coaching staff with a welcome selection headache for the visit of Sligo Rovers. Unfortunately, the signing of Thibaut Molinatti fell through this morning due to paperwork issues. New singing Dave O’Connor misses out due to injury along with fellow defender Shane Tracy and striker John O’Flynn.
Speaking to www.limerickfc.ie, goalkeeper Brendan Clarke was wary of the threat Sligo pose. The former Sligo ‘keeper said “If the league had gone on another two or three weeks last year they may have snuck into Europe and they have had a full year together now.
They are a good side and it will be a tough test but we will be looking to win.” Clarke urged the passionate Limerick support to get behind the team on the opening night. He added “I saw first-hand in the league cup final last year what a big crowd at the Markets Field can do, so hopefully the fans will come out and support us.”
Sligo Rovers English manager Dave Robertson enjoyed a successful start to his managerial career in Ireland by guiding Sligo Rovers to a fifth-place finish in 2016. Sligo have added five new players to their squad ahead of the 2017 season including goalkeeper Shaun Patton, defender Kyle Callan-McFadden, Chris Kenny and strikers Jordan Ayunga and Matthew Stevens.
However, the Bit O’Red have lost key players Jimmy Keohane and Achille Campion to rivals Cork City. Sligo will be looking to experienced midfielders John Russell and Rafael Cretaro to lead from the front again this season as they have on so many occasions in the past.
Sligo arrive at the Markets Field as somewhat of an unknown quantity with many young players among their ranks. Right-back Tobi Adebayo-Rowling and midfielder Kieran Sadlier will be key players for Limerick to watch on Friday evening. However, as they showed last season, the recruitment of youth can be very effective along with the right blend of experience.
Speaking to the club’s official website ahead of the game on Friday, Robertson praised the effort of his players in pre-season; ““The players have done what they can to be in the team on Friday. It is always difficult to choose your starting XI no matter what game you are playing but you have to go with your instincts and draw on your own experience and that’s what we will do.”
The Sligo boss warned his charges against complacency as he stated, ““We know how Limerick play and a Martin Russell team. Last year they had a terrific season in achieving promotion. It’s not a game to take lightly and they are a team we have to respect.”
Referee: Graham Kelly
Previous Meetings: 30th October 2015 Sligo Rovers 2-3 Limerick FC
1st August 2015 Limerick FC 3-2 Sligo Rovers
2nd May 2015 Sligo Rovers 1-1 Limerick FC