Leaders Hibernians will be aiming for a seventeenth win in eighteen matches as they take on Naxxar Lions in one of the two BOV Premier League matches in programme on Sunday at the National Stadium.
The Paolites extended their positive run with a 5-2 win over Zebbug Rangers in the first game for the new calendar year and another win on Naxxar would ensure they regain a fifteen-point lead over Valletta and Birkirkara after both registered wins on Saturday.
Naxxar, on the other hand, are joint-eighth with Qormi and hope for a positive result after suffering defeats to Tarxien and Floriana in their last two outings. However the absence of goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi, Ghanian defender Albert Bruce and Daren Falzon makes it much more difficult although they welcome back Angus Buhagiar and Gilmar with Jorge Santos set to make his debut after joining the club from Tarxien.
Hibernians will be without Rui de Gracia Gomes while Bjorn Kristensen will be back after serving a one-match ban.
In the first round, Hibs defeated Naxxar 5-1.
Meanwhile in the first match, Balzan and Floriana cross swords in a direct clash for fourth place.
Balzan currently lead by one point after back-to-back wins over Mosta and Tarxien. Floriana also won their last two matches, defeating Zebbug and Naxxar with identical 4-1 scores.
Edison Bilbao Zarate returns for Balzan after serving a one-match ban but Oscar Guerrero and new signing Bojan Kaljevic are suspended. Floriana welcome back Amadou Samb but Andre Scicluna is ruled out injured.
In the first round, the two teams shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.