THE CHEQUEBOOK remained locked away in the safe at Tallaght Stadium as Pat Fenlon opted not to make any signings before the close of the transfer window today.
But the Shamrock Rovers boss is happy to work with what he has, as the return to fitness of their international trio (Damien Duff, Keith Fahey and Stephen McPhail) as well as the emergence of some young talents convinces Fenlon that his panel, as is currently stands, is more than capable of having a real say in the title race.
Rivals like Dundalk, Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic have all made signings this week but it’s a case of ‘as you were’ for the Hoops.
“We might have one going out on loan but as it stands we won’t have anyone coming in, unless something crops up late,” says Fenlon.
“Things are tight in terms of the budget but I am happy with what we have. If I can get Keith Fahey and Stephen McPhail back they will be like new signings.”
There was an extra bonus for Rovers from last week’s 4-1 win over Limerick as teenagers Cian and Dylan Kavanagh made their league debuts. Their emergence, added to the goal threat from youngsters Mikey Drennan and Brandon Miele, is a big boost for Fenlon, who recalls leading scorer Drennan tonight after a three-game ban.
“Other clubs get the plaudits for putting young players into the team but we don’t seem to get the same credit,” Fenlon says.
“Mikey and Brandon have done well in team but it was great to see Cian Kavanagh start and then Dylan Kavanagh come on last week, they warranted their chance but now they have been in the side they will want more.
“It will be good to get Mikey back for tonight’s game, because of suspension and the way the fixtures fell I think it’s 50 days since he played a league game so he’s raring to go.”
Duff, who signed for Rovers earlier this month, has yet to feature for the club while fellow Ireland men McPhail and Fahey have been out injured, and are expected to be on the sideline for some time and certainly won’t be involved against Drogheda United tonight.
“Damien is getting there, in terms of his fitness, but he won’t be available for a few weeks.
“Keith and Damien are on the training pitch and making progress but still a few weeks away, Stephen McPhail isn’t on the training pitch yet so we’ll have to wait.”
The front two of Dundalk and Cork City remain in front but the chasing pack of Rovers and St Pats have not given up hope yet.
“We have to pick up as many points as we can, if Cork or Dundalk can go between now and the end of the season without dropping points then good luck to them, they’ll deserve to win the league, but someone will drop points and we have to make sure we do our own work, be sure that we’re ready to pounce if someone does drop points,” Fenlon said, his side on a run of four wins from the last five league games.
“But we have a tough game tonight against Drogheda, I have seen them and had them watched, they are hard to beat, especially at home,” he added.