Michael Duffy could be back in action for Dundalk when the Lilywhites travel to face Sligo Rovers in their SSE Airtricity League Premier Division opener at The Showgrounds on Saturday (kick-off 6pm, live on WATCHLOI).
The winger has yet to feature in pre-season due to a back injury but team manager Shane Keegan said he is hopeful of having the 26-year-old available in some capacity for the trip to the North West.
Cameron Dummigan is also expected to be available for selection having come on late on in Friday’s President’s Cup victory over Shamrock Rovers but the quartet of Brian Gartland, Daniel Kelly, Sean Murray and Ole Erik Midtskogen are likely to miss out on the clash with a Bit O Red side who beat Dundalk at home and away last season on their way to a fourth placed finish.
Asked for an injury update, Keegan said: “I think we’d be hopeful enough both in terms of having players back who weren’t involved and players back who were on the bench and didn’t start because maybe they weren’t ready for a start. We should have a bit of both going on there.
“By the end of the week we’d be hoping that Cammy would be pretty much up to 100pc.
“I think Michael Duffy is going to be an interesting one this week. I definitely wouldn’t unequivocally rule him out of next weekend yet. I think he’ll be there or thereabouts.
“It all really depends on how the next 48 hours go for him but there is a chance that he could put himself in the frame either for a start or for an impact off the bench.
“There’s still a bit more of a question mark over some of the others like Garts, Dickie, Sean Murray and Ole. I’d be surprised to see any of them make this weekend but again I couldn’t 100pc rule any of them out yet because none of them are a million miles away,” he said.
As of Monday morning, Dundalk were still in the dark as to whether Sonni Nattestad would be suspended or not following his red card in Friday’s President’s Cup match.
“That has to go through a process,” Keegan said on Monday morning when asked whether the Faroese defender would be available or not.
“We have until 5pm today to put an appeal in if we are putting an appeal in so that will be one of the first topics of conversation this morning as to whether we are going to do anything formally there or not.
“If it was a league game I think with it being a straight red there would have to be a minimum of two games anyway but the fact that it’s not a league game it’s somewhat of a grey area and it will be completely up to the disciplinary committee to decide themselves the length of the term.
“At this moment in time it could literally end up being anything from zero to three matches I’d imagine.
“The key thing for us will be the referee’s report and whether he has sent him off for the tackle or whether it was something after the tackle. It depends on the referee’s explanation I guess.”
With Nattestad potentially suspended and Gartland unlikely to return from injury, that leaves Dundalk with only two out and out centre halves potentially available in Daniel Cleary and Andy Boyle for the trip to Sligo.
While that could throw the side’s 3-4-3 formation that they’ve played with throughout pre-season in doubt, Keegan said he feels Darragh Leahy could easily fill in at left-sided centre back if required.
“I don’t think it’ll be too much of a headache,” he said.
“It’s straight forward enough, we’ve two options. We can change shape because we’re down an out-and-out centre half or I think we can very easily play with that shape because of the flexibility of Darragh.
“Darragh played on the left of the three against Drogheda in the Malone Cup and was absolutely excellent. He’s probably a fella who is quite similar in a lot of ways to Liam Scales and what he does for Rovers. I’d argue Darragh would be equally as comfortable on the left of the three as he would on the left of the midfield so if we want to stick to that system I think we can and then Cammy (Dummigan) or Val (Adedokun) can play on the left of your midfield four but we’ll probably bounce around both ideas for the next 24 or 48 hours in terms of which is best regardless of whether Sonni is available or not.
“The team has a lot of tactical flexibility so I think there will be movement between systems a lot over the course of the season depending on what we think is the best for what we’re trying to do on the night and the opponents we’re taking on so first and foremost I think we need to decide which is the best fit on the night regardless of whether Sonni is suspended or not and if we decide that three at the back is the best shape against Sligo then I think we’re still capable of doing that even if Sonni and Garts are not available.”
UPDATE: It was confirmed on Thursday that Sonni Nattestad would not face a suspension for his red card in last week’s President’s Cup tie.