There’s no such thing as a deal with no risks but Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth believes he’s got as close as possible to it in re-signing Andy Boyle.
The 28-year-old defender’s long discussed transfer back to the Lilywhites on a three-and-a-half year deal was confirmed on Monday afternoon.
While there will be those who argue central defence is the area Dundalk need to strengthen the least, Perth said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity of adding an Irish international to the squad once he became available.
“He’s one of our own,” Perth said.
“With the culture of what we do around the place being so important to us – and I suppose no one on the outside knows what that even mean but it means a lot to us – it is easy to fit him in.
“If I need to play Andy literally tomorrow night he knows what is expected and he knows how we do things so in that sense it is an easy signing and it’s obviously a very popular one in the squad because he’s very well thought of.
“Andy is one of them players that sometimes you forget he’s on the pitch and I think that’s the mark of a great centre half at times. He’s very calm and really good on the ball. He is our type of player so it’s good to have him home.
“Obviously when a guy at Championship level is released, most of them are out of our league for financial reasons and budgetary reasons but Andy knew so much about the club that he also knew our pay structure so he didn’t come looking for amounts we couldn’t afford or amounts we weren’t willing to pay.
“When an Irish international at that level, who is a really good age for a centre half, becomes available you have to be interested but it was literally over the last couple of days that we felt it was close and he only passed his medical this morning (Monday) so it was only then that you’re happy everything is done.”
With some crunch league games and a Champions League double header on the horizon against Riga FC, it would be perhaps unfair to throw Boyle in at the deep end given he is effectively in pre-season having not played since helping Ross County to promotion in May.
However, Perth feels it won’t be long before the 28-year-old is lining out in a white shirt again.
“He’s not that far off,” he said.
“As soon as the window opens he’ll be registered. We tested him today and while he’s slightly behind the rest of the group it’s nothing major.
“We’ve a small bit of work to do with him but the medical staff will do that with him.”
Perth said news of Boyle’s arrival was welcomed by the squad.
“They’re the type of players who embrace good players coming into the group and actively encourage it whereas it would be very easy for them run a mile and to fear for their own position.
“They were definitely happy when they heard the news.
“I think people will say the obvious that we have four centre halves and Stephen Folan as well but the answer to that is that we’ve probably been very lucky in relation to injuries in two positions all season and that has been at right full and centre half.
“If we hadn’t had the cover we had in midfield I don’t think we’d be within 10 points of the top of the league. The fact we had that cover gave us a chance.
“If we got two injuries this week we would head into Europe very, very short in that position so all we’ve done is strengthen that position. I also think that Andy will play a part in Sean Hoare and Dan Cleary’s development as players. We have really high hopes for both of them. Dan, as a young player, is very similar to Andy and I think he can evolve even more as a centre half having Andy around. I think it ticks a lot of boxes.”
Asked would there be further arrivals at Oriel Park this summer, Perth remained coy.
“There is nobody on the radar,” he said.
“There wasn’t two weeks ago other than the chance that Andy may come home but that’s all it was.
“There’s nothing else likely to happen. We’ve a brilliant squad. The owners have really backed the group and we feel we’ve a very strong squad.
“We trained last week and halfway through the session I realised it was the first time that every single player had trained together since the start of the season so we stopped the session, gave ourselves a round of applause and had a bit of a laugh. That’s very uncommon for most teams to have that situation but it feels like Robbie Benson is a new signing over the last week. We’ve had Sean Murray and Jamie McGrath both training this week full-time so it feels like we’ve added two or three to the group already because of them injuries clearing up.
“We don’t expect wholesale changes plus we do see a future for a number of the young players at the club. We seen Dylan Hand making his debut recently, Lido Lotefa has a real chance and a couple of lads from the U-19s have been training with us of late so I think we’ll start to see people step up to the plate.”
Meanwhile, Perth said he would travel to Latvia on Wednesday to watch Champions League opponents Riga FC in action against bottom club in the Virsliga, FK Jelgava.
“I watched their last four games and I may go over and watch them on Wednesday as well,” he said.
“We’ll see them live over the next two weeks a couple of times but they’re a good side. There’s not a lot between the teams and there never is at this stage of the competition. We’ve never had it easy at all at this stage so it won’t be any different this year.”
With FK Partizani of Albania or Qarabag of Azerbaijan awaiting the winners, Perth said he’d rather be going to those far flung destinations than the prospect of meeting either BATE Borisov or Polish champions Piast Gliwice if they lost.
“Obviously that’s the tie we have our eye on,” he said.
“We want to stay in the Champions League as long as possible because that’s the dream competition. Ultimately a club of our size our goal is Europa League group stages for now and the best way of doing that is to stay in the Champions League as long as possible.
“We would like to have the headache of preparing for either Azerbaijan or Albania.
“Before that Riga is a very difficult tie but it’s no more difficult than when we played FH or even Tallinn last year. Even at this stage of the competition most teams are evenly matched.
“I’m sure Riga are quite happy with the draw as well. They would have wanted us or New Saints from Wales so it hasn’t been the worst draw for them either so we have to be really at it,” he said.