Newry City AFC manager Darren Mullen is looking forward to locking horns with old rivals Institute this evening.
Last season the pair pushed each other all the way in the Bluefin Sport Championship and Mullen is expecting another ding-dong battle tonight.
“There’s never too much in our games, both sides are evenly matched,” he said. “I sure Paddy is looking at it as well that it’s an opportunity for his team to get something out of it as well.
“The first game there wasn’t an awful lot in it, we started the game well and they probably scored against the run of play, so it’s a game we are looking forward too.
“Our home form has been good, we had a friendly against Dundalk on Monday night and that was really good preparation for the ’Stute game.”
City have somewhat of a defensive crisis with Darragh Noonan joining the list of players on the treatment table.
“With Darragh going off early at Linfield last week, we are struggling at the back, in fact we are missing three centre-backs and because of that we are left short on cover for that position,” he added. “But that’s the reason why we have a squad, it means whoever comes in, it gives them a chance to stake their claim and there certainly won’t be any excuses on Friday night.
“In that friendly against Dundalk I was able to play a few boys who did well, so I have somewhat of a selection headache.”
As for his opposite number, Paddy McLaughlin goes into the game with a number of injury concerns.
Winger Jamie McIntyre is likely to be out for a number of weeks after sustaining a knee injury on Saturday. Left-back Colm McLaughlin is struggling with a hip problem but, on the plus side, defender Ryan Morrow has returned to light training this week.
However, his knee injury means he’s likely to miss the trip to The Showgrounds.
“Colm has had a hip problem these last few weeks, so hopefully he can make it, but the other two are definitely out for a while,” he stated. “Maybe Ryan might make it but we’ll have to wait and see and while we don’t know the full extent of Jamie’s injury at the minute, it looks like he’ll be out for a number of weeks.”
Already this season Newry have had some impressive results at home, drawing with Coleraine and defeating Cliftonville in recent weeks - something which hasn’t gone unnoticed by McLaughlin.
“Newry have done well at home this season and have had some impressive results against top teams,” he added. “We have had some competitive battles against Newry over the last few seasons and I expect no different this Friday night.”