JOHN McDONNELL believes that the current crop of Shelbourne players have earned the right to stay on at the club.
When McDonnell took over from Alan Mathews last month, Shels were adrift at the bottom of the table and the talk among the Reds support suggested that the new boss would need to initiate a clear-out of a squad which had lost 10 times in 14 games.
But the Shels squad made a statement of intent with a creditable display in a narrow defeat to title-chasing Derry City and followed that up with a stunning win away at Bohemians.
McDonnell would still like to make changes to the squad when the transfer window opens next week but for now, the talk of a mass clear-out is off the agenda. "The lads who are in the squad already have done well and they deserve their chance to stay here and have a career for themselves," says McDonnell (below). "When I came in they all knew an improvement was needed, and they have certainly give me that. They have been working harder, they have been willing to come in for longer sessions and do extra days and hopefully we'll see the rewards of that in the next few weeks.
"Once the window is open I would like to freshen things up a bit, I think every manager in the league would like to at least bring in a player or two and we're no different. Finance will dictate as we have no money and we may need to move players on before anyone comes in," added McDonnell, who has – for now at least – ruled out an exit for striker Philip Hughes, who has been linked with a return to St Patrick's Athletic.
Shels do face a tough task tonight though as they're at home to a Sligo Rovers side who are badly in need of a win to kick-start their bid to retain the league title. "We showed against Derry and in the win over Bohs what we can do. The challenge now is to reach that standard in every game and we have to try and repeat that standard against Sligo," says McDonnell. "We can't allow our form to be up and down from week to week, we were excellent against Bohs but we have to go out and play the same away against Sligo."