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Mahon mulling over starts for North and O'Brien as Bohs battle looms

ST PATRICK'S Athletic manager Pete Mahon (pictured) may have had a lot to ponder lately, but it's all of the positive variety as he takes his side into tonight's crunch Airtricity League Premier Division clash with Bohemians at Dalymount Park.

Mahon has been relatively lucky in keeping his core of experienced first team players injury free, but he is faced with a number of selection headaches as he bids to keep his side at the top of the table.

With new recruit from Bradford City, midfielder James O'Brien, available to Mahon, his only injury concern is centre-back Shane Guthrie, who is struggling with a calf injury.

Striker Danny North, who made an impression on Mahon as a second-half substitute in last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Sporting Fingal, may also be in contention for a starting place against the defending champions tonight.

"Danny is pushing for a start, having done well last week," said Mahon. "And with Gareth O'Connor coming into the squad along with James O'Brien we've a few selection headaches. O'Brien impressed at training during the week. It may not be the match for him to make his debut but I think he will be a great addition for the club," he added. Mahon, however, doesn't look upon tonight's top-of-the-table clash as a title six-pointer.

"The last time we travelled to Dalymount we were top of the league and we left top of the league and that is our intention again for tonight," he said.

"Some might look at it as a showdown but there is no use in us beating Bohs and then losing the next three games and the same for them. It may give the winners a bit of a psychological advantage. With Bohs at home the pressure will be on them to deliver."

Meanwhile, Bohs boss Pat Fenlon sees tonight's Dublin derby as a big stepping stone to achieving their aim of a third successive Premier Division title. "This is a big game," said Fenlon. "We've had two really competitive matches against St Pats already this season so I expect this one will be no different.

"I firmly believe that we have a team here that's capable of winning the league again and that's what we are aiming to do."

Anto Murphy and Steven Gray will miss out again as they continue to recover from achilles injuries.

Raffaele Cretaro is a doubt with a hip flexor problem.