After playing a prominent role in the last two matches, Joe Adams is hoping to get the nod to start Friday night’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game with Shelbourne at Oriel Park.
The 21-year-old Welshman came off the bench to replace the injured Robbie Benson after just 20 minutes against Sligo Rovers last week and he was also named in the starting XI for the 1-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Easter Monday.
With Daniel Kelly and Steven Bradley providing the width, Adams played off Patrick Hoban against the Bit o’Red. He reverted to the flank against Rovers but given a preference he said he would prefer to be involved in a more central role.
“I enjoy playing there,” he said. “You get more of the ball in that position than you do out wide. I played there almost 50 per cent of the time with Brentford last year so I’m well used to it and I feel like I can do a good job there. I’m just hoping to get a good run of games now and get up to a good level and try and maintain that.”
Dundalk head into the game looking to build on their impressive home form this season. Stephen O’Donnell’s side are unbeaten at Oriel Park, with a return of 11 points from a possible 15.
In contrast, Damien Duff’s men have mustered just one point from their opening six league games at Tolka Park – a 1-1 draw with Dundalk in March – but they have the second-best away record in the league with three wins and two draws from their five matches on the road thus far.
“Playing away probably suits Shelbourne a bit more,” said Adams. “They can sit in a bit more and try and catch teams on the break a bit. At home, the onus is on them a bit more to take it to the opposition so I think that’s a big factor in that record.
“We’ve proven very, very hard to beat at Oriel this year. We’ve not been beaten here and we’re looking to build on last week’s win over Sligo where we played very well. It’s important to try and make it a fortress.
“We have two home games in a row now, starting with this one on Friday, and I think this is a chance for us to start gaining points. Hopefully, by the mid-season break in May, we’ll be in and around the top of the table.”
O’Donnell has called on his players to believe in their ability and to grasp the mantle of playing with a club that has won five league titles in the past decade and, as one of a number of new faces at Oriel Park, Adams said he has come to appreciate the expectations that come with playing with Dundalk.
“When you come over, you don’t really know what to expect,” he said. “We’ve had one round of games now, though, so we have played all the other teams and we can see that anyone can beat anyone, no matter what the game is. Everybody is there for the taking and that gives us a lot of confidence.
“The last few years weren’t great for Dundalk but when you look at the history of the club over the past decade, and you look at the gaffer and the squad we have, the expectation is back and as a player that’s what you want. You don’t want to be settling for anything less than three points in every game.”
Brian Gartland is suspended after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers on Easter Monday while there are doubts over Robbie Benson and Dan Williams are doubtful after going off in the win over Sligo Rovers last Friday night.
Stephen O’Donnell Quotes
“We had a tough game at Tolka Park earlier in the season and in their last two games, Shels have gone away to Sligo and Derry and taken maximum points so we know it’s going to be difficult. They play in their shape and they carry a threat so it’s up to us to ask enough questions to bang their door down.
“We need to play with the same energy and application that we went in with last week against Sligo, and to a certain extent in Tallaght on Monday, and make sure we are well organised and bright in our movement and thinking and the way we want to play. They are the offensive standpoints and in the last two home games against UCD and Sligo we have had very good periods and spells of possession where we carried a real threat.”