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Saturday 16 February 2019

Perth in no rush to add new faces

James Rogers

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth says he is in no rush to add to his squad despite admitting he needs to strengthen it before the new season gets underway next month.

It's a month exactly today (Tuesday) until the Lilywhites begin the new league campaign at home to Sligo Rovers on Friday February 15th.

Following the retirement of Stephen O'Donnell last week, the sale of Dylan Connolly and the departure of several fringe players over the winter months including Georgie Poynton, Ronan Murray, Gavin Smith, Carlton Ubaezuono and Pablo Cavalcante there are just 18 outfield players on the books of the club at present.

Perth told The Argus that he and his backroom team of John Gill and Ruaidhrí Higgins are busy eyeing up players to add to the panel for the new season but says it could be 'a week to 10 days' before any new faces arrive at Oriel Park.

'Between John, Ruaidhrí, myself and Stephen we've spent the whole weekend on player recruitment,' he said.

'There has been a huge amount of emails and text messages swapped between the four of us in terms of trying to find a couple of players who are going to strengthen the squad. We've done a lot of work on that over the weekend. We're not there with anybody yet but we've moved that on quite a lot over the weekend.

'We've a very small squad at the moment. While from the outside it looks really strong, it's the team that looks strong but the squad isn't at the moment so we've got to fix that. We'll be doing that over the next sort of week or so.

'I'm probably a week to 10 days away from signing anybody. Our target market is guys out of Scotland, England and Scandinavia at the moment and we have loads of options in that area but they have to be right and fit into what we do.'

Despite being linked with the likes of Chris Forrester and Andy Boyle in recent weeks, Perth said talk of the club signing them were 'nonsense'. In relation to Forrester, who has two-and-a-half years left on his deal at Aberdeen, Perth admitted his admiration for the former St Patrick's Athletic star but said interest in him hadn't gone beyond the point of informing his agent to let the club know if he was ever interested in coming back to Ireland.

'I've done that with Andy Boyle, David McMillan and probably about 15 players who aren't coming home any time soon,' he said. 'I've said to Daryl Horgan if you're ever coming home and it's not going well for you then we're here for you but that's sort of keeping your options open. You just have to keep doors open but they're not on our shopping list at the moment because they're just not available.

'There may be a couple of other young lads coming back and we're looking for one or two of them but we're in a good position. The team is sorted but we just need to add to the squad now.

'We've about seven or eight options that we're looking at at the moment. Obviously we couldn't sign all of those even if we wanted to. There's nothing concrete at the moment and nor is there a big rush to have anything concrete.

'I've no deadlines on anybody. The January window means that a player might be comfortable today in his club but in two weeks' time if he doesn't think he has a chance of playing he may make a different decision.

'There's no sort of immediate rush to get anybody in but we've got a lot of targets and we're working on a lot of different options. One may come off, two may come off or three may come off but we've loads of options open.'

Another player linked with Oriel Park during the week is Glentoran's former Celtic midfielder John Herron but Perth dismissed this saying: 'Not even on our radar, we haven't even discussed him.'

Perth said ideally he would add two to three players to the panel, one of whom is likely to be young defender Dylan Hand who has been training with the squad at the start of pre-season.

'We've 18 outfield players signed at the moment and we'll probably sign another three.

'We'll probably sign Dylan Hand if we can get the paperwork over the line. He's a young lad who I've a bit of belief in but we'll probably sign two to three first-team players as well and I think we're getting Karolis (Chevedukas) back to being a first-team player as well so we're not in too bad a shape. You can only name a squad of 18.'

The head coach also said no one would be departing the club at present. 'It's a busy period in the background but it's a quiet period in the sense that we have got 21 players signed at the moment. We're looking for a bit of cream on the cake.

'I've had a load of other managers asking for players on loan but no one is going out or going anywhere as it currently stands. We can be patient for the month of January and be patient to find the right players to strengthen the squad.'

Perth described the first week of pre-season training as 'excellent', adding that he had introduced a nutritionist to the club to help the players prepare for the new season.

'We've had a great week. We haven't had an injury. It's probably been the best week we've had in training. There's a sort of renewed drive in the place.'

He also said new signing Daniel Kelly had settled well in what is the 22-year-old's first experience in full-time football.

'We've had to monitor him a little bit and we've taken him in and out of training sessions. He has spent a little bit of time with our strength and conditioning department because he has a little bit of work to do in that sense but he has really settled in well.

'His touch and ability on the ball has probably surprised a couple of players at how far he is ahead from where they thought he was. He has been a breath of fresh air this week.'

Meanwhile, Perth said no decision had yet been made on a new club captain following O'Donnell's retirement.

He said they may look to add another pre-season fixture to their schedule having fixed the Leinster Senior Cup game at home to Athlone Town for after the opening league game on Monday February 18th.

Finally, former Dundalk FC CEO Mal Brannigan has landed himself a new role as managing director of Scottish Championship side Dundee United.

The Argus

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