Jamie Walker, Paul Doyle and Louie Annesley are all in line to make their first appearance of the year in Thursday night’s pre-season friendly against Longford Town at Oriel Park.

Walker joined the Lilywhites from Kelty Hearts on Tuesday while Doyle and Annesley sat out last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Shelbourne at the AUL and Lilywhites head coach Stephen O’Donnell said they would play some part in our first home game of 2024.

“Paul and Louie will be available and Jamie came in and trained with the rest of the squad for the first time on Wednesday so we are looking forward to seeing him play.”

Dara Keane, who arrived from UCD in December, will miss the game with Longford Town and Sunday’s Leinster Senior Cup opener against Malahide United with a strain but O’Donnell said he was hoping he would be ready for the Malone Cup tie with Drogheda United in a fortnight.

“Dara will be available post Malahide,” said O’Donnell. “We have a block of training after that game and hopefully he will be involved at that stage and we get to see him in the Drogheda game.

“It’s all about getting lads more minutes so players will play 60/30 on Thursday night against Longford and then we’ll flip that against Malahide on Sunday.

Dara Keane. Photo: Ciaran Culligan

“The aim is to build that up to 90 minutes against Drogheda United and Bohs games and then we’ll be ready to go in terms of sharpness.”

Meanwhile, O’Donnell said he is hoping to add at least ‘four or five’ more additions before the kickoff against Shamrock Rovers on February 16th.

“We’re happy with the progress we’re making and the players that we are recruiting but from a logistical point of view, we still need to fill a few positions and add depth in certain areas,” he said.

“We have taken four in and we would possibly be looking at bringing in another four or five. That would give us a competitive squad, where everyone would feel they have a chance of playing.”

Keane, Walker, Robbie Mahon and Koen Oosterbribk have arrived on permanent deals but O’Donnell said that he was willing to explore the loan market again, pointing to the fact that most of the league campaign is played in the first half of the year.

“If there is an option for a player of the same calibre and he’s available on a loan or a permanent deal, we would prefer to make it permanent but there are things that pop up in the loan market that can be a big help,” he said.

“We also have 22 league games between February and the summer time so two-thirds of the season is front-loaded and that is something that we are conscious of as well.”

Admission to the game against Longford Town is €5. Supporters are advised that there will be no bar facilities and concessions in place for this game.