THE STRENGTH in depth at league champions St Patrick's Athletic faces its first real test of 2014 when Liam Buckley's men face up to Irish League side Ballinamallard United tonight.
Coming in between league games against Cork City (a 1-1 draw last Friday) and UCD next weekend, Saints boss Buckley could decide to change things around for the second leg of their Setanta Sports Cup battle with Fermanagh outfit Ballinamallard this evening.
Key players like Mark Quigley (right), James Chambers and Daryl Kavanagh had to settle for a place on the bench for the opening game of the league season, away to Cork, while last season's player of the year Killian Brennan missed out after suffering an injury in the warm-up.
"I'm sure we'll change it around as we've such a big squad, but it's just a case of getting the result and going through to the next round," said midfielder Lee Lynch.
"We've such a good squad with the boys coming in. There's really no difference between us all.
"They'll know their jobs coming in, know their roles and be as good as the other lads who started the previous game."
Leading 1-0 from the away leg thanks to Christopher Forrester's goal, Pats are favourites to make it into the last four while Sligo Rovers should also advance, Ian Baraclough's men taking on Crusaders at home with a 4-1 lead from the first leg.
"We have given ourselves a fantastic opportunity to reach the next round," said Baraclough.
"We took our chances well in Seaview and we need to finish the job tonight. Crusaders will feel they have little to lose. They will do all they can turn it around and it's up to us to do what we need to go through."
While Pats and Sligo have those first-leg leads, Dundalk have it all to do as they head across the border to face Coleraine having lost the home leg 3-2.
"We know we have to go there and win by two goals. It's going to be a tough game but we know we have to defend better," said Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny, still reeling from a 4-1 loss to Drogheda United on the opening night of the league.
"We can't defend the way we did on Friday. We kind of started this way last year. We were leaking goals from the off but we sorted that out and shored things up. We need to do that straight away and have to sort things at the back. We're looking forward to the game and we know what we have to do."
Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final, second leg
p Sligo Rvs v Crusaders (Showgrounds, 7.45)
pSt Patrick's Athletic v Ballinamallard Utd (Richmond Pk, 7.45)
pColeraine v Dundalk (Showgrounds, 8.0) LIVE SETANTA IRELAND
EA Sports Cup
pCork C v Limerick (Turner's Cross, 7.45)
pWaterford Utd v Avondale (RSC, 7.45)
pFinn Harps v Cockhill Cel (Finn Pk, 7.45)
pCrumlin United v Drogheda United (John Hyland Park, 7.45)
pShelbourne v Bray Wanderers (Tolka Park, 8.0)
pAthlone Town v Longford Town (Athone Town Stadium, 7.45)
pUCD v Bohemians (UCD Bowl, 7.45)