Skipper Pender: Warren can go all the way
Bohs aim to secure safety in derby
A win over their local rivals St Patrick's Athletic tonight would allow Bohemians spend the rest of this season looking up, not down, the league table and possibly stay in contention for a place in Europe next season.
But the club's longest-serving player, defender Derek Pender fears that it's going to be a struggle to hold onto their prize assets, especially youth international Warren O'Hora, into 2018.
A heavy defeat at home to St Pat's back in March (0-4) kicked off a dismal run of six losses in seven games, which plunged Bohs deep into relegation trouble. More recently, a Dublin derby win, over Shamrock Rovers, sparked a good run of form which means that a win tonight would effectively save Bohs from any threat of relegation, also leaving Pats in the mire.
Cabra lad O'Hora (18) made his full league debut in that win over Bohs and is expected to start in central defence again tonight, with a host of cross-channel clubs eyeing up the defender, who recently signed a new contract, taking him up to the end of next season, along with fellow Gypsies Fuad Sule (20) and Oscar Brennan (21).
"Warren is so good, he has every chance in the game," Pender says of O'Hora. "For a young lad his attitude is spot-on, he is determined to do well and that's what stands to him, aside from his talent.
"He can go as far as he wants to. he has come into our team and taken his place in the team without a bother, and he likes the challenge.
"It's great that we have him and it's brilliant for Bohs that he is signed up for next year, but the Bohs fans should appreciate him while they have him as he won't be here for much longer.
"He is that talented, and his attitude is so good, that he will be across the water at a decent level, sooner rather than later," added Pender, aware of the importance of tonight's derby against Pat's, despite the seven-point gap between the two clubs.
"We are still not safe and it's a mad situation where clubs go into a game knowing if they win they could push for Europe and if they lose they are heading for relegation, that's how tight things are," says Pender.
"If we win tonight we could up up to fifth and maybe be just a few points off fourth place. Europe might be a bit too far away for us, but with the league being the way it is you never know, if we have good run in the last five games of the season you never know.
"The mood is good on the back of the win (4-1) in Drogheda last week but we needed that, we were looking over our shoulders and the win gave us a bit of breathing space."
While last week's win boosted morale for Bohs, the Saints have suffered of late, a shock defeat in the FAI Cup and a 6-0 hammering by Dundalk. As a former Saint, Pender has feelings for the southside club but has little sympathy. "With three teams going down this season it's very tense and we can only look after ourselves, I think we need to win this game just as much as they do."
On the other side of the city tonight, a struggling Finn Harps try to take something from a Shamrock Rovers side who are closing in on a top-three finish.
"We have to go to Tallaght and try and get something from the game which is going to be very difficult," says Harps boss Ollie Horgan