DAMIEN McNulty returns from suspension to bolster an ailing Finn Harps defence in Friday’s crunch clash with Shelbourne at Finn Park (kick-off 8pm).
McNulty (pictured above) missed the 2-0 defeat at Wexford Youths at the weekend having reached his quota of four booking, but is set for a quick-fire return as Harps host fourth-placed Shels.
The Drumcondra side are just three points adrift of Harps now. The battle for the top three position is so thin a cigarette paper would barely squeeze between the teams.
“I don’t know if it’s quite ‘must-win’, but it’s certainly a must-not-lose game anyway,” Horgan told Donegal Sport Hub.
“We have to pick ot up and I think that we will – I’d be very disappointed if we don’t pick it up after last week.”
Josh Mailey serves another game of a suspension after his sending off in the 0-0 draw at home to Athlone Town two weeks ago while a torn calf muscle means that Packie Mailey will not be in the quad, although the Convoy man has resumed light training.
On Friday night, Harps gift-wrapped Wexford two goals in a killer five-minute spell in the first half.
Danny Furlong, Wexford’s in-form striker, netted in the 18th and 23rd minutes, to hand Harps a 2-0 defeat that had their manager tearing his hair out during the week.
He said: “I didn’t see that defensive performance coming and I can’t get my head around it to be honest.
“We didn’t win any kickouts. I knew that Danny Furlong would cause us all sorts of trouble, but I didn’t think we’d be beaten in the air by every header. I never saw our levels dipping so much.
“The one positive is that they all know just how poor the were and they realise that they were well below what they should have been. If we play like that again we won’t beat anyone.
“At least we know that we have things to rectify.”
It remains unclear whether Rob Waters – who made his Harps debut at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night – will be available to make the trip to Ballybofey this week.
Waters was snapped up by Horgan after the attacker left Cobh Ramblers by mutual consent in July.
However, the player has only commited to appearing in the remaining away games because of his work situation in Cork.
Given that two of Harps remaining home fixtures – September 5 v Waterford and October 17 v Wexford – are on Saturdays, Horgan is hopeful of a couple of bonus games from Waters.
The Harps manager will recall McNulty into his defence, but it is at the other end where Harps are having the greatest difficulties with no goals in their last three games, a run of 270 scoreless minutes.
“Shelbourne are the form team in the Division at the moment,” said Horgan. “It will be a huge challenge for us on Friday and it’s a bigger challenge since we aren’t going too well.”
A big crowd is expected at Finn Park for a game that sees Harps kick-start the final quarter of the season.
Horgan has urged Harps supporters to be patient.
He said: “We will need everything from the players and supporters between now and the end of the season.
“There is a realisation here that we’re in a dog fight, a real battle. We need supporters to be patient. There will be twists and turns in the season yet and if things go wrong we need supporters to be patient with us.”Tags: