Monday 26 February 2018

Kenny eager to persuade key players to commit to his Dundalk vision

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny in attendance at a media conference in advance of the EA SPORTS Cup Final at the FAI HQ in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny in attendance at a media conference in advance of the EA SPORTS Cup Final at the FAI HQ in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

With an EA Sports Cup final to look forward to on Saturday, Stephen Kenny also faces a busy period off the pitch as he looks to ensure that he has a strong enough squad to win back the league title next year.

Having seen the likes of Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle move to England, the Dundalk boss is mindful of the fact that several of the key players in his current squad may end up following the trio across the pond.

Interest in Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney isn't in short supply and given that the influential duo are just two of a number of players who are out of contract at the end of the season, Kenny is already in talks to try and keep them at the club.

"There was a time when you dealt with players and got a feel for them," Kenny said.

"Now a lot of players go through third parties and there has been a huge influx of new agents in the last year or two - at all levels of the game, from 13 or 14 right through.

"There are a lot of new agents who are keen to get players away so that's all part of the challenge. I think if they're part of Dundalk and they come to play for us, play well every week and play to their full potential, they're not scraping around getting moves to the bottom of League Two.

"They're getting good moves if they come here and show that they're good enough. It's a great journey to play in Europe here for Dundalk and to challenge for league titles and to be part of that winning league trophies.

"We shouldn't dismiss that either. You would want to have something special to leave Dundalk at the minute. We're going to be consistently challenging for trophies over the next few years and we're going to get better in Europe, so players shouldn't want to miss out on that."

McEleney, who has been outstanding this season, has attracted plenty of interest with Luton Town, Wigan and his former club Sunderland amongst the clubs monitoring his situation.

While the interest in the 24-year-old attacker doesn't surprise Kenny, he believes that he needs to prove that he is "durable" enough to cope with the demands of playing in England.

"The thing about Horgan and Towell was that they played 33 games a season," Kenny explained.

"They never missed a game, never missed a training session. That's what I had for a few years. They were so durable.

"Patrick's not as durable. He has had issues with groins and hamstrings in the past and he has to work hard to stay fit.

"He's not a natural athlete, like say Boyle or Towell or John Mountney, who could be out for six weeks and still come back and run all day.

"Patrick has to work harder than other players at his fitness. He wasn't born with that sort of natural athleticism. What he was born with was incredible talent.

"He has shown a very good attitude and he has had a bit of a run without getting injured, although he has had injuries this season. He needs a run between now and the end of the season.

"The key is that he can get runs of games staying fit, because when you see him play at his best he is quite unique."

As well as keeping hold of his key men, speculation is mounting that Kenny could also persuade Bohs goalkeeper Shane Supple to move to Dundalk next season.

Irish Independent

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