Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields has backed Georgie Kelly to step up to the plate if given the chance against Bohemians on Friday night.

With Pat Hoban suspended for the trip to Dalymount Park, the 22-year-old striker is in line for what would be his first league start since signing from UCD last July.

With game time limited, the Donegal native has had few opportunities to show what he’s capable of but Shields reckons he has the quality to hurt the Gypsies this weekend.

“We have faith in Georgie to do the job next week,” said Shields.

“I’m sure he’s been dying for some game time but now he’ll be handed some.

“I’m sure he’d get into any other side in the country. He’s good enough to fill Pat’s boots and that’s why he’s here.”

With Sean Hoare also suspended, the midfielder has no doubt that Dundalk can cope without two of their leading lights on Friday.

“We just have to deal with it and it’s time for boys to step up. Georgie Kelly and Brian (Gartland) and Dan (Cleary) are good enough and experienced defenders so there are no worries there. There are lads here who can come into the fray and are ready.

“The squad has genuine quality.”

The 28-year-old is expecting a tough test against Keith Long’s side.

” They’re playing well and playing good football. Keith has done an amazing job there. 

“They’re playing good stuff but also in terms of team morale they’re flying. They seem a tight knit group and that goes a long way in a dressing room. I’m sure it will be a sold out Dalymount as well, which will be good to see, but we’ll be going there to win.”

Shields is hopeful his side can bounce back after blowing a two-goal lead at home to Derry City on Friday.

“It’s very disappointing,” Shields said of the result.

“To be 2-0 up and cruising and then to give away two sloppy goals is poor. They’re goals we don’t usually give away and it’s not good enough.

“It was flat and dead in the first half. It was a quiet night in here to be fair but iIt was just a bad half of football overall. In the second half we came out and really hit the ground running but that’s the most annoying thing then to f*** it away.”

Shields said he did not know why the penalty was given which saw Eoghan Stokes equalise from the spot and Hoban sent-off.

“I don’t even know. You’ll have to ask the ref,” he said.

“I was marking my man and all of a sudden the ball is swung in and he has pointed to the spot. I’ll have to have a look back at it but I couldn’t tell you what the peno was for.”

While that was a disappointment for Dundalk, fans will be pleased to hear that last season’s SSE Airtricity League Player of the Year is confident he is only getting better following his recent return from a knee injury.

“I’ll be 100% soon enough. As long as I’m able to play on it I’m happy enough. The schedule there was thick and fast, not just for us but for everyone in the league, so you’re just strapping boys up and sending them out. We’ve a week between games now for a week or two so you can kind of take a bit more care and get yourself right,” said Shields.

As published in The Argus May 7th 2019