CHRISTOPHER FORRESTER believes that his St Patrick's Athletic side have the potential to sustain a real challenge to Dundalk's title bid this season.
But the Ireland U21 cap admits that Saints need to up their game if they are to retain their Premier Division title. The champions can move into second place in the table if they can win away to Cork City on Friday night, though Dundalk are already six points ahead of second-place Cork.
"We will be the main challengers to Dundalk now, Cork are still there but we have the ability to make a real challenge. Dundalk are catchable, it will take a lot of hard work and a series of good results with a bit of luck but we are not out of it by any means," says Forrester.
"I think Dundalk could slip up at some stage but we have to keep winning our matches to make that count and we still have to play Dundalk as well, next month at home, if we can get a good result there we can keep up the pressure on."
Yet the champions will need to do better than their last outing as Pats were not at their best in last Friday's 1-0 win at home to Sligo Rovers.
"We need to do better, we can't afford to play the way we played in the last 20 minutes against Sligo," says Forrester.
"I think we were nervous in that game, we were 1-0 up but we had these nerves about us where we didn't want to concede. It's not a case of tiredness with us as we feel fit and fresh.
"We were excellent in the first half in our last game and if we can play more like that in the next few games we will do well. We didn't finish on Friday as well as we'd have liked and Sligo had us on the back foot for spells in the second half, it was disappointing from us especially as they only had 10 men."
Boss Liam Buckley will have to make changes for Friday's trip to Cork as Forrester and Sean Hoare are suspended, but the squad has been added to in the last week with the deadline-day arrival of Aaron Greene.
"There is good competition for places now with Aaron here, he can play out wide and up front so that puts pressure on me but if I keep scoring goals I might be able to keep my place," added Forrester.