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Vinny Happy To See Injured Players on Road to Recovery

First Team News
// 5 Mar 2020

With several key players on the road to recovery, Dundalk manager Vinny Perth is hoping to have more firepower at his disposal in the coming weeks.

Patrick McEleney returned to full training on Tuesday while Serbian winger Stefan Colovic has spent the week building up his fitness and getting to know his new teammates.

Sean Murray is also close to a return from the hip injury that has disrupted his early season and, speaking to DundalkFC.com, Perth was full of spring cheer ahead of the trip to Finn Park.

“A couple of little things went against us for a week or two in terms of our forward play but we’re starting to see players getting closer to full fitness now,” he said.

“Stefan Colovic has been here a full week now, Georgie Kelly has had more training, Patrick McEleney is almost ready to go and Sean Murray is out running so there are lots of positives.”

Stefan Colovic. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Colovic was an unused substitute in last Friday night’s 3-2 defeat to Shamrock Rovers but did feature in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Shelbourne the following day.

“It’s been a bit difficult for Stefan,” said Perth. “The weather has been so bad and the grass pitches that we train on have been awful but he has excited people and you can see the quality he has in the final third.

“He has been training on his own since December and it will take another week or so to get him up to speed but he is here now and can add quality if he is called upon.”

Friday night may come too soon for McEleney. The Derryman has missed all four of Dundalk’s opening league matches with an Achilles injury and Perth acknowledged that the Lilywhites have missed his creativity.

“Patrick’s almost ready to go,” he said. “His pre-season was interrupted by an injury that has held him back. He probably needs another week or two to be at match speed but we are very excited to have him back. We missed him at the end of last season and the start of this season. He brings that little bit of magic in the final third.”

Patrick McEleney in action against Longford Town in pre-season. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Dundalk arrived at Finn Park last year to find the pitch much narrower than usual but Perth said it was the recent weather, as opposed to Ollie Horgan’s gamesmanship, that was of more concern.

“We’re expecting the pitch to be really tough on Friday,” he said. “That part of the world has been hit hard with three or four storms over the past few weeks.

“It’s a tricky venue but Harps are a good side and they’ve improved on where they were last year. They play more football than they ever have and they’ll be a real threat to us.

“In terms of the width and things like that, we have our beliefs and they have their own. Nobody can say what’s right or wrong. They have more footballers now than they’ve ever had in the past so it may not suit them as much to narrow it. We’ll see when we get up there.”

Dundalk are looking to bounce back from last Friday night’s defeat in Tallaght. It was the first time since 2017 that the Lilywhites had lost a league game after being in a winning position and Perth said that valuable lessons had been learned.

The Dundalk players, pictured before the 3-2 defeat to Shamrock Rovers. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

“We’ve had a really good week and, unfortunately, sometimes you learn more from a defeat. A big game went against us and that hurt a few people which is good because we’ll learn from it.

“We shouldn’t have lost the game,” he added. “We did enough to come away from Tallaght with a result and at times we were excellent. We had 30 minutes in the first half where we were as good as we’ve ever been at that ground.”

Rovers’ win was seen by many observers as a major statement of intent but Perth said that nobody in the Dundalk dressing room was too flustered by the outcome of one match.

“There’s a long way to go,” he said, “and the league won’t be decided over the next couple of weeks, it’ll be decided what happens over the next three, four, five months.

“I’ve been here eight years now and people, rightly, forget the games that haven’t gone our way,” he added. “The only time we have ever won the league comfortably was last season and we came into this season expecting another tough campaign so we’re not too concerned.“