“We want to finish the season on a high with as many points as we can”

Dundalk v Bohemians - Club Friendly

Preview: Dundalk v Bohemians
SSE Airtricity League
Friday October 16 2020, Oriel Park, 5.45pm
Live on WatchLOI

Bohemians head to Oriel Park with European football secured but looking to go one further by confirming second place.

For Michael Barker, it is also another opportunity to show what he is capable of having had to wait nearly eight months to see any action in the SSE Airtricity League.

Like many others, the 27-year-old has had to bide his time as a combination of the truncated season with fewer games and Bohemians’ fine form has limited opportunities.

Having featured in Bohs’ opening four league games of the season, Barker’s only action since February came in last month’s FAI Cup win over Cabinteely.

But with just over ten minutes remaining in Bohs’ 3-0 win over Cork City last week, an ankle injury suffered by Rob Cornwall provided Barker with his chance.

He is likely to deputise this evening once more in place of Cornwall, who is ruled out on his 26th birthday.

Barker said: “It was a long time coming! It’s been a tough season for those of us who have had to bide our time. So it was nice to get back on the pitch, even if it was only for a few minutes.

“That’s the nature of the reduced season with there being no midweek games or EA Sports Cup games this year. The team has been doing so well and the performances have been so good, that it would be hard for the manager to change the team.

“We just have to keep pushing ourselves. Training is very intense and you don’t want to take your foot off the pedal and be ready when called upon.”

Barker played a big role in the club qualifying for Europe last season, with manager Keith Long recently highlighting that his injury-time winner in Waterford last June and the jubilant scenes that followed as the point that the team really believed they could do it.

The defender says that is a moment he will never forget, but is delighted the team has repeated the feat again this year with three games left to play.

Covid-19 has robbed fans the opportunity to celebrate that achievement in the way they did last time around, but having gone eight years without European football, nobody is taking it for granted.

Barker said: “It was a lot different to last season! It was on the cards for a few weeks now, which is a testament to how well the team has done.

“The fact that anything less would have been seen as a disappointment tells you how far the club, team and management have come in recent years. There are quality players at the club and they deserve to be playing in European competitions.

“Everyone in the squad has contributed. It has been a very enjoyable season despite all the disruption. It bodes well for next year.

“It’s huge for the club and the area and most importantly the fans. That was the one downside of Europe this season was not having them over with us in Hungary. Hopefully that might change next year.”

Bohs have won three on the trot but face a Dundalk team who have regrouped and improved under Filippo Giovagnoli.

Barker added: “We know Dundalk are one of the best teams in the country, if not the best. They had that dip earlier in the season but since the new manager came in they have turned a corner.

“They have been brilliant of late and have reminded us of how good they can be with their run in Europe.

“But regardless of who we are playing, we want to win.

“Finishing second would represent an improvement on last season so we want to finish the season on a high with as many points as we can.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without Rob Cornwall (ankle) while one player is ruled out as a result of testing positive for Covid-19 and another is self-isolating having been deemed a close contact.

Website by Simon Alcock