Dundalk FC could be set for further raids on the Faroe Islands football market to boost their squad for next season.
So far Norwegian striker Ole Erik Midtskogen is the only new arrival at Oriel Park ahead of the 2021 campaign having caught head coach Filippo Giovagnoli’s eye when scoring in KÍ Klaksvik’s 3-1 Europa League defeat against the Lilywhites at the Aviva Stadium at the start of October.
The Italian boss admitted to The Argus before Christmas that Dundalk began tracking the 6ft 4in forward on the back of that performance but it now appears that at least three other players from the North Atlantic archipelago have impressed the FAI Cup winners.
One understood to be of particular interest is centre half Sonni Nattestad – pictured above – who has 31 caps for the Faroes national side.
The Haitian-born 26-year-old, currently plying his trade with B36 Tórshavn, has previously been on the books of two of Dundalk’s European opponents of recent years, Molde of Norway and FH Hafnarfjordur of Iceland. While appearances for both clubs were limited and largely confined to the reserves, he was an unused substitute in both of Dundalk’s matches against FH when Stephen Kenny’s side began their memorable European adventure in 2016 with a 1-1 draw in Oriel Park followed by a 2-2 draw in Reykjavik which set up that memorable tie with BATE Borisov.
Nattestad, who is 6ft 6in in stature, has also been on the books of Danish sides Midtjylland and Velje Boldklub – the latter best known to Lilywhite fans as the club from which Sean Murray arrived from at the start of 2019.
Another Faroese player understood to be on the club’s radar is U-21 international Stefan Radosavljevic.
The Serbian born attacking midfielder, also on the books of B36 Tórshavn at present, has caught the eye this season with five goals and 11 assists in 24 appearances.
Like Nattestad he has also been to Ireland before having featured for B36 in both legs of their Europa League qualifying defeat to Crusaders in July 2019.
He also featured prominently in Europe this season as B36 beat Gibraltar’s St Joseph FC, Estonia’s FCI Levadia and The New Saints of Wales, who he scored against – before bowing out in the third qualifying round of the Europa League having lost 3-1 away to CSKA Sofia. Despite that defeat, Radosavljevic again caught the eye by providing the assist for Sebastian Pingel’s goal which made it 2-1 with 29 minutes to go.
Another Faroes U-21 international who has caught the eye but is arguably the least likely to happen is centre forward Peter Knudsen. The 22-year-old scored a phenomenal 16 goals and chipped in with 15 assists in just 21 games for NSÍ Runavík this season as they finished runners-up in the league to eventual winners HB Tórshavn.
Those players, a UK-based youngster and an Albanian goalkeeper with an Italian background are amongst the many targets currently being weighed up by Giovagnoli as he plots to build his squad for next season.
Following the release of John Mountney, Jimmy Corcoran, Nathan Oduwa and Aaron McCarey last week, there was some good news for supporters just before Christmas with the news that Daniel Kelly, David McMillan, Sean Murray and Cameron Dummigan had all signed new contracts.
That quartet brings to 14 the number of players contracted to Dundalk for next season alongside Midtskogen, Daniel Cleary, Andy Boyle, Darragh Leahy, Greg Sloggett, Stefan Colovic, Patrick Hoban, Chris Shields, Patrick McEleney and Will Patching, although the latter’s future remains up in the air having not featured in a squad under Giovagnoli since the start of October.
It is expected that Brian Gartland will be signed up once again for 2021 while the club are also hopeful of retaining the services of Michael Duffy and Jordan Flores, although both could have options elsewhere.
Mountney, whose departure from Oriel Park after nine seasons and 305 appearances was confirmed last week, is expected to sign for St Patrick’s Athletic in the coming days. Meanwhile, Aaron McCarey has joined Cliftonville with Georgie Kelly, who spent the second half of last season on loan at St Patrick’s Athletic, has signed for Bohemians.
Former goalkeeping coach Steve Williams has also moved to pastures new having been snapped up by Mickey Harte to assist with the Louth GAA panel.
Dundalk are expected to return to pre-season training on January 10th with a provisional start day for the new league season pencilled in for February 26th.
UPDATE DECEMBER 30th: Due to Christmas print deadlines, the article was written last Wednesday but published a few days later. Despite contact from Dundalk with the player’s agent, Stefan Radosavljevic subsequently signed for HB Tórshavn on Christmas Eve having, as I understand it, expressed a preference to remain in the Faroes. Peter Knudsen, meanwhile, is understood to have interest from Norway while it is rated ’75-25′ at this stage that Sonni Nettestad will join the Lilywhites.