Rovers return to League of Ireland action for the first time this month when they host Dublin rivals St Patrick’s Athletic at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night (kick off 8pm - buy tickets here).
Stephen Bradley’s men have a lot of ground to make up on first place Dundalk with ten points separating the sides with just six games to go until the end of the season.
The Hoops’ most recent outing against First Division side Galway United in the FAI Cup proved a tough test for the title challengers.
The Dublin side required a last minute winner courtesy of Lee Grace to drag them into the semi-finals of the competition where they will face Bohemians.
That being said, their tails will still be up having not lost a league game since the end of June and their last Premier Division match was a 1-0 victory over fierce rivals Bohemians.
“I’m not sure what to expect from St Pat’s because they’ve changed the team quite a bit in the last three games, against Finn Harps, UCD and Cabinteely,” Bradley told the club’s website.
“We’ve just got to be ready for whatever Pat’s bring and make sure we’re at it. Stephen O’Donnell has come in and I’m sure it’s going to give their players a lift.
“It usually happens for a few weeks where they get a buzz. They’ll come to Tallaght looking for a win so we’ve got to implement our game plan and hit our levels.
“Confidence is really high in the dressing room. The players have been excellent and the performance levels have been really high other than little patches here and there.”
Neil Farrugia is close to making a return for Rovers, with the player back in full training. Joey O’Brien is a doubt still suffering from a foot injury.
Bradley will be given a boost from the return of newly capped Republic of Ireland international Jack Byrne to his squad after he made his debut for the national team against Bulgaria.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
It has been a mixed start for the newly appointed Saints manager Stephen O’Donnell since taking over less than a month ago.
His side’s most recent Premier Division fixture was a disappointing 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened UCD last Friday night.
However a victory over Finn Harps in Ballybofey the week before and a Leinster Senior Cup win over Cabinteely earlier mean O’Donnell has yet to be beaten in his first management role.
Shamrock Rovers are different gravy compared to the teams faced in recent weeks but O’Donnell is looking forward to the challenge.
"I'm really looking forward to it and the players are too,” O’Donnell told the club’s website.
“It's going to be a tough game. Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk have been a good bit clear of the rest this season,”
“We know we are going to be up against it. But one thing that we know we have is belief in the dressing room.
“We are going to instill a lot of belief in the dressing room when we are going to Tallaght looking to get something from the game.
"The boys have trained really well again this week, with good recovery from the games last weekend.
“We are raring to go and really looking forward to going to Tallaght full of hope and full of focus of getting a result."
The Saints will have a full contingent to choose from for their game against Shamrock Rovers.
Referee: Rob Harvey
The sides have faced each other three times this season already with Rovers coming out victorious from each fixture and the Saints unable to score each time.
Rovers have gone eight games unbeaten in the Premier Division with their last loss coming against Dundalk in June.
The Saints have only scored 26 goals this season, a figure almost as low as relegation-threatened Cork City (25), Finn Harps (25) and UCD (21).
Shamrock Rovers 2/5; Draw 3/1; St Patrick’s Athletic 6/1.
Shamrock Rovers 2 – 1 St Patrick’s Athletic
Injured: Neil Farrugia.
Doubtful: Joey O’Brien.
St Patrick’s Athletic
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