Sunday 17 December 2017

International dilemma for Sligo with Puri's call-up

SLIgo Rovers

SLIGO Rovers boss Owen Heary will have the rare headache of having a player unavailable as he's required for Euro 2016 qualifying duty after new signing Sander Puri was called up by Estonia for a key game later this month.

Sligo. who have started the season well with a draw at home to title favourites and an 8-0 thrashing of the Mayo League in the EA Sports Cup, take on Drogheda United (tonight) and Derry City before a very testing double header in the league at home to Shamrock Rovers and away to champions Dundalk.

But Puri (right), signed by Heary in the close season after a spell in England, will not be in Ireland as on the night that Sligo face Dundalk at Oriel Park (March 27th), he will be involved for Estonia in their Euro qualifier away to Switzerland with a friendly against Iceland four days later.

The Estonians started their Euro campaign well with a 1-0 win over Slovenia but since then have lost to Lithuania and England and also had a poor 0-0 draw with San Marino in their last game.

Airtricity League clubs have regularly had to cope with missing players due to international commitments at underage level, but Puri's call-up and subsequent dilemma is the first time this has happened at senior level with a European nation since Heary's former team-mate Mindaugas Kalonas skipped games for Bohemians while on duty with Lithuania in 2008, though Eamon Zayed was also called up for Libya while in Ireland.

Meanwhile, champions Dundalk know they will need to do better if they are to take a win away from the Brandywell tonight, as they scraped home with a 1-0 win over Longford Town last weekend

"The first game of the season is always scrappy but Longford played well and were awkward to play against. We should have had he game wrapped up maybe but we won and that's the main thing," says Dundalk winger Daryl Horgan.

"Derry City will be a really tough test. We will have to iron things out, we were a little bit out but that will definitely come over the next few weeks. The Brandywell will be a tough place to play in and Derry won last week too so it will be difficult we know that but we're taking each game as it comes and hopefully we can get the right result."

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