Dundalk midfielder Jordan Flores could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines but regardless of the outcome of a scan today, head coach Vinny Perth says it will not change his transfer plans.
The 42-year-old fears that a thigh injury picked up by the former Wigan Athletic player could be medium to long-term.
However, after welcoming back fellow midfielders Sean Murray, Jamie McGrath and Robbie Benson from injury in Friday night’s 1-0 win away to Shamrock Rovers, Perth said he is happy with the squad he has at his disposal heading into the business end of the season.
Asked would the outcome of Flores’ scan change his transfer plans, Perth said: “No, it doesn’t.
“I’m happy with the squad we have. We’ve got some tremendous players. We’ve got to embrace people like Dylan Hand who has come into the group now. He was on the bench tonight and he came off the bench against Finn Harps. These people are in a great place so I don’t envisage a big change any time soon.”
Despite Perth’s assertions, Dundalk are understood to be actively in the market for a striker with recent moves by Andy Burton for Scottish striker Lawrence Shankland and Englishman Ashley Nadesan proving unsuccessful. Dundee Utd, Sunderland and Hull City are all keen on Ayr Utd forward Shankland while 24-year-old Nadesan, who scored 12 goals in 40 games on loan at Carlisle United in League Two, has recently signed a three year deal at Crawley Town having moved from Fleetwood Town.
Perth said they would need to wait on the results of Monday’s scan before determining the exact nature of the injury to Flores.
“It’s probably one of the first muscle injuries we’ve got all year. He’s got a slight problem with his thigh so he’ll go see a specialist on Monday and we’ll assess it from there.
“It could be medium term or it could be long term, I don’t know but it’s a real blow for him because I think everyone in the club was starting to see what we believe Jordan to be and everyone in this club it seems to take six or eight months to get going so I hope it’s not too long for him and he gets back very quickly.”
Perth said the absence of Flores on Friday meant he had to bring Murray, Benson and McGrath back quicker than he might have liked but insisted that in a strange way it worked out well in the long run for that trio.
Asked about their sluggish first half display in Tallaght, the head coach said: “In one sense we might have seen it coming a little bit because when we lost Jordan to injury during the week we felt that Sean is short, Jamie is short and Robbie is short so we had to move them in a little bit because they’re really strong in that midfield area.
“We didn’t pass it well enough. We never worked on our game plan which was to get our full backs away. At half-time a little bit of calmness was needed. There was no shouting or roaring and I think in the second half we definitely got it out to our wingers and our full backs a lot more. We had a couple of counter attacks and Pat (Hoban) and Michael (Duffy) probably should have finished it but at the same time they had a lot of the ball without actually hurting us as well so I thought we were very good in that sense.
“I thought Jamie made a massive difference tonight in terms of his ball retention but I think if he had started I don’t think he would have been up to the pace of it and I think Sean would have come on and made an impact. That’s where they’re at. It was a judgement call and we just felt cardio wise Sean had done more than Jamie. To be fair he worked really, really hard around the pitch.
“The quality of ball retention from himself, McEleney and Shields wasn’t our normal selves but Jamie came on and gave us a real boost and a real shot in the arm.
“If Jordan had been fit, I don’t think Robbie would have made the bench but now we have got him on the pitch and we’ve got Sean Murray game time so it has probably helped us in a perverse way. The injury, even though it affected us tonight, Jamie got some game time too and it puts us in a much better position. Overall I thought the work rate tonight was excellent.
“We lacked a bit of energy at times in midfield but we may or may not have overcooked them. I think the work we’ve done over the last two weeks though will stand to us in the next month. It was definitely worth it with the result going our way.”
Perth said he felt Dundalk should have had a penalty for a handball by Sean Kavanagh at the end of the first half but was pleased to see Sean Gannon get his just rewards when he popped up with a 73rd minute winner.
“The linesman said ‘it hit his hand but…’ and then he couldn’t tell us anything after the but.
“I didn’t speak to him but that’s what the players were saying. He didn’t know how to explain it. I don’t know about it. It is what it is. There was a lot of talk about how many penalties we’ve got and their manager was commenting on it which is interesting because I don’t think he should. I don’t think he should be allowed make reference to other teams.
“Whether that came into people’s minds I don’t know but I think we took our goal really well. It was a brilliant first header by McEleney. He could have headed it into Gannon but he actually headed it into McGrath, who had a great weight in his pass and obviously Sean scored.”
Not for the first time this season, Perth praised Gannon for his growing stature in the dressing room.
“He has become a real leader for us,” he said.
“He’s an outstanding character and he is really respected in the group. I think you’re starting to see the next Sean Gannon coming over the last year. Even though he was 25 or 26, he was deemed to be a young player but I think that has changed over the past 18 months and you’re starting to see a real leader of the group.
“I think Trevor Clarke was decent on that side tonight but he never really got in behind Sean. I thought he was excellent.”
While happy to have opened up an eight point lead on Rovers, Perth said there would be many twists and turns ahead in the title race.
“We’d rather be where we are but I do believe the league is going to be skewed,” he said.
“I think people will drop points and other teams will have good nights and bad nights. If Rovers have some success in Europe, which I genuinely hope they do, will they have six games or eight games or four games and will they then have games called off here?
“It’s the same with ourselves, if we have some success in Europe. If we win our first game we’ve got six games, if we win two, we’ve got eight. You can’t play league matches around that time or they will certainly be restricted so there’s a long way to go.”
Perth had been in Latvia in midweek to watch Champions League opponents Riga FC go down to a shock 1-0 defeat to Jelgava but he said they were a decent side who were not to be underestimated.
“It was a good game of football with two good sides. Riga are very strong. Roman Debelko has come in from Tallinn and we really rated him last year. They’ve signed three or four other players as well so they’re a very, very strong team and if anyone in this country is underestimating how good they are I think they might be shocked when they see them in Oriel Park.”