The 2016 League of Ireland campaign started with Shamrock Rovers eyeing up the Premier Division title and seven games in, despite a couple of minor blips, they remain in the chase.
One of the chief reasons for the form of The Hoops has been winger Brandon Miele.
Having won the PFAI Young Player of the Year award in 2015, the 21-year-old has notched four league goals so far in 2016 and has high hopes of beating last season’s personal tally of 11.
Before the season started, Miele, speaking to the Shamrock Rovers website said:
This year is a big year for the club. We want to win the league and that is the main thing. We are a good team and have to prove it.
If Rovers want to remain in contention going into the summer break they need to ensure that the youngster’s determination is mirrored by his team-mates.
With league leaders Dundalk coming to Tallaght on Friday night, Pat Fenlon’s men lie just four points behind their opponents with a game in hand.
The performance of Miele will be crucial as Rovers aim to record a first league win over their visitors since May 2013.
The Hoops’ star man has started all seven games in the Premier Division this season and his most recent outing in the 4-0 Dublin Derby demolition of Bohemians at Dalymount Park saw him hit the back of the net twice courtesy of two clinical finishes.
Both goals were examples of the remarkable composure that Miele has shown throughout his young career.
Having returned home from an unsuccessful stint at Newcastle United, he spent six months at Bluebell United before being snapped up by Rovers in January of 2015.
After the victory at Bohemians, Miele told the Irish Sun that he aims to improve on his 2015 tally this season.
I have to be confident. If you panic they can go anywhere so you have to be composed. We’ll see how things go. I’ll be happy if I get 15. If I get 15 to 20 I’ll be really happy.
Friday’s opponents Dundalk currently have the joint-best defensive record in the league having conceded just four goals in eight games.
Manager Stephen Kenny will no doubt have outlined the threat Miele will provide to his defence particularly at set-pieces, as a superb curling free-kick against Sligo Rovers in the opening game of the season will testify.
Fenlon meanwhile has placed a lot of trust in his young forward and will be hoping that he can move another goal or two towards his personal target as well as help his side close the gap on the league leaders.
Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk takes place at Tallaght Stadium on Friday April 22nd with a 7.45pm kick-off.