League of Ireland: Dundalk v Derry City (Fri)

Aaron McEneff
Aaron McEneff is set to return to action for Derry at Oriel Park after suspension
League of Ireland Premier Division
Date: Friday, 23 September Venue: Oriel Park Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Score updates and match report on the BBC Sport website

Derry City boss Kenny Shiels believes Dundalk's busy recent schedule could benefit his side in Friday's League of Ireland contest at Oriel Park.

Dundalk, amid their continuing European exploits, will be playing their sixth game in a fortnight with Derry facing into a third match in the same period.

"I was at their game on Tuesday (1-1 draw against Shamrock Rovers) and they looked tired," said Shiels.

"If they carry that tiredness into Friday, it will be to our benefit."

Shiels would back season extension

While Dundalk's fixture congestion could be to the advantage of their only real title rivals Cork City, Shiels insists that he would support calls for the League of Ireland season to be extended in order to help the Oriel Park outfit's European campaign.

"I've always said that the league should be supporting our European representatives.

"They should be be doing everything they can to support that and if that means extending the season, then I'm not going to go against that.

"It would probably create a few problems for certain teams but I am in favour of supporting our teams that are in Europe.

"Also, I don't want Dundalk to lose the league because of fixture congestion. I would rather they lose the league because someone was better than them.

"I'm a great believer in fair play and it's very difficult for Dundalk but they deserve credit for how they have played."

David McMillan is congratulated by Daryl Horgan after scoring for Dundalk in the 5-0 hammering of Derry in July
Dundalk hammered 10-men Derry 5-0 at the Brandywell in early July

Derry will be boosted at Oriel Park by the return of Aaron McEneff and Dean Jarvis who missed last Friday's 0-0 draw away to Wexford Youths.

McEneff, in particular, has had a splendid season for the Candystripes and Shiels says "both were missed last week".

Dundalk defeated the Candystripes 5-0 at the Brandywell in early July but the first-half dismissal of Ryan McBride continued to Derry's heavy defeat.

Shiels is expecting Friday's game to be a much closer affair.

"I feel we can go there and get something from the game and play well. Maybe even win it. But there are many variables in football."

Dundalk go into Friday's fixtures five points clear of Cork, who have a game in hand, with the Leesiders facing Sligo Rovers away on Saturday evening.

Third-placed Derry are 10 points behind Dundalk as they go into the weekend games two points ahead of Shamrock Rovers, who face Galway United in Tallaght on Friday night.