While most League of Ireland players will be looking forward to a couple of day’s rest when the mid-season break kicks in, Louie Annesley is hoping to make up for some lost time and pack in as much football as possible.

After missing 16 games with a serious illness; the Gibraltar international contracted sepsis after playing a starring role in Dundalk’s 5-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic on March 3rd, Annesley made his return in the Bank Holiday Monday win over UCD, playing the full 90 minutes alongside Andy Boyle at the heart of the defence.

The SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division will take a two-week hiatus after Dundalk’s game with Cork City at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.

Annesley, however, is hoping to play through the break and be involved in Gibraltar’s upcoming EURO 2024 Qualifiers against France on June 16th, followed by the small matter of a clash with the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium three days later.

“The other lads deserve a break but I certainly don’t want one,” he smiled. “I just want to continue training and playing and kick on and hopefully be involved against France and Ireland.

“As I said in my very first interview when I came here, I just want to play as many games as possible so I definitely don’t want to have five days abroad right now, especially after being out for so long.

“Monday’s game was my first in 13 or 14 weeks so the body felt a little bit like the tin man the day after it but I really enjoyed it and it was great to get the three points.

“I’m back a little bit ahead of schedule and I was hoping to get some minutes in before the international break with Gibraltar so I was buzzing to play the full 90 against UCD.

Jeff Hendrick of the Republic of Ireland is tackled by Louie Annesley of Gibraltar during the UEFA EURO2020 Qualifier at the Aviva Stadium in 2019. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

“I’m not sure if I would’ve been in contention for the Gibraltar squad if I hadn’t made it back so, hopefully, those minutes against UCD will have helped and after missing the games against Holland and Greece, I’m really hoping to be selected. 

“I played against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium back in 2019 so it would be great to go back there as a Dundalk player. I’ve already told a few of the lads I’ll get them tickets for the away end!”

The domestic league season resumes on June 23rd with a Louth Derby against Drogheda United while Dundalk will also get their UEFA Europa Conference League and FAI Cup campaign, the latter with a home tie against Shamrock Rovers, underway in July.

“When I signed for Dundalk, they were the months that I looked at,” said the former Blackburn Rovers defender.

“In June, there are internationals, in July we’ve got Europe, the FAI Cup tie against Shamrock Rovers and the second half of the league, so it’s all going on and they are games that everyone wants to play in.”

The more immediate focus for Annesley and Dundalk is this Friday night’s trip to Leeside to face a rejuvenated Cork City side that have won their last four games on the spin.

“The performance against UCD was very good, especially after going one down early on,” he said, “but we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves.

“We have got to approach every game with a winner’s mentality now and Monday night’s win will help going into Friday.

“Cork are in good form but we know that if we can go on a run of five or six wins on the bounce, it would put us right back up there in the mix. That’s all we talk about, now it’s about putting that into action and doing it.”