Dundalk FC defender Liam Burns is hopeful that his young teammates can “deliver” given time and that they will be part of the “long process” that manager Seán McCaffrey has embarked on at Oriel Park.
The 33-year-old centre-half, a double winner with Bohemians in 2008, was a full ten years older than the next oldest outfield player – Shane O’Neill at 23 – on the Lilywhites sides that have played the opening two games of the season.
Those outings have resulted in the accumulation of one point, with the team tasting defeat for the first time at home to Saint Patrick’s Athletic last Friday night.
This coming weekend, it does not get any easier as they face into a Louth Derby against Drogheda United at United Park.
But Burns believes that over time, the patience of supporters will be rewarded, with the Belfast-born defender insisting “we have got to believe in our ability and believe in what we’re doing”.
“We were disappointed with the result against St. Pat’s,” Burns told dundalkfc.com.
“There were some patches of play. But, overall, they were the better team and deserved their win.
“We have got to look at it and take the positives out of it, and build on it for the game against Drogheda, which is a big local derby.
“In the first half, Pat’s had a bit more possession but they didn’t really create any chances. The chance they had came from our mistake, so we’re disappointed about that.
“Apart from that, Peter (Cherrie) hadn’t really got a save to make in the first half.
“We were a bit unfortunate to go in 1-0 down.
“At the start of the second half, we got our tails up and we got at them and got after them.
“Unfortunately, another individual mistake cost us.
“But we’re a young team and we have got to learn.
“I think it will take time, especially with a young team. It would be a different matter if it was maybe 7-8 senior pros that know the league and would be able to gel quite quickly.
“They’re young lads and hopefully they’ll be here for years to come, and build a successful team.
“A lot of them are at college and we have got a lot of the U19 team in, so it’s going to take time.
“Hopefully, if the fans can be a wee bit patient, this team can deliver, not just this season. It’s going to be a long process and hopefully these players are going to be part of it.”
But, while aware that it will take time, Burns is confident that they can “pick themselves up” and get a result in Drogheda.
“It’s a massive derby and the players know how important it is,” he said.
“Also, we want to get the right result on the back of this game and get a win under our belts.
“The derbies are always tight games, especially down there. It’s a tight pitch and the crowd is on top of you.
“But it’s a game that you have got to relish. There will be a big crowd there and big expectations, and we’re looking forward to it.
“Drogheda will be well organised and they’ll be hard to beat, especially at home. You know you’re going to get a game when you go there.
“But we have got to believe in our ability and believe in what we’re doing, and hopefully we can go there and get a result.”