We are delighted to announce that Johannes Yli-Kokko has extended his loan spell at the club until the end of the season.

The 21-year-old arrived from his parent club HJK Helsinki in February and has made 23 appearances for the Lilywhites this season, scoring three goals.

“I was delighted to hear that I can stay here for the remainder of the season,” said Yli-Kokko. “It was in the works for a long time, but I only got confirmation about three or four days ago.

“I settled in pretty quickly to the group after I arrived and I feel like I’m getting more used to the game here and that I’m improving all of the time.

“It would have been tough to leave the boys when we still have lots to play for. We have big games in the league, cup and Europe to come and I’m really looking forward to being a part of them.”

“We are delighted to extend Johannes’ loan deal until the end of the season,” said Dundalk FC head coach Stephen O’Donnell. “He has made a big contribution since he arrived from Finland.

“We are going into a hectic schedule now and hopefully after Thursday’s second leg with KA it will get even more busy so we will need everybody we have available.”

Johannes Yli-Kokko in action against Ben Doherty of Derry City during the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division match at The Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Yli-Kokko’s immediate task is to try and help Dundalk recover from a 3-1 defeat in their UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round first-leg tie against KA Akureyri in Iceland last week.

If O’Donnell’s men can do it on Thursday, they will become the first Irish club in history to come back from a two-goal deficit in the first leg and Yli-Kokko believes that the Lilywhites are up to the task.

“The whole group is confident that we can do it,” he said. “We’ve been watching the game in Iceland back and I think everybody who has seen it knows that there’s really good chances to be had.

“We also saw the KA celebrations after the game,” he added. “I don’t know if they’ve never played in Europe before, but it’s two legs and now they have to come to our house – which will be a whole lot different.”

A win would set up a probable third qualifying round showdown with Club Bruges, who lead Danish club Aarhus 3-0 from their first-leg tie, and Yli-Kokko, who played in the UEFA Europa League group stages with HJK last year, agreed it was a big incentive.

“That’s why we’re here,” he said, “to play in big games like that. We know what we need to do on Thursday and we know what is waiting if we win so that’s a big motivation for us to go through.”