Dundalk defender Brian Gartland will undergo a scan today (Tuesday) to determine the extent of the knee injury picked up in the early stages of Friday night’s 2-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.
Making his first outing of 2021, the 34-year-old went down in agony while attempting to track a player following a short Rovers free kick inside the opening 30 seconds of the game.
After five minutes of treatment, Gartland was stretched off with fears that he may have suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
That is the same injury that former team-mate Stephen O’Donnell suffered in a 2-2 draw with Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park on Good Friday 2014 which saw him miss the bulk of that campaign before memorably returning to start and score along with Gartland in the 2-0 win over Cork City on the final day which saw Dundalk clinch their first league title in 19 years.
While everyone will hope that Gartland can make a safe and speedy recovery, even in a best case scenario he is set for an extended period on the sidelines which will rob Dundalk of a major defensive option and leadership on and off the field.
Sonni Nattestad remains suspended for Friday night’s clash against Bohemians at Oriel Park (kick-off 7.45pm, live on WATCHLOI) so Filippo Giovagnoli and Shane Keegan will have to play someone slightly out of position if they want to persist with playing three centre halves.
Irish underage international centre back Tom Gaston remains on trial at the club and could be fast-tracked as a signing depending on performances in training although it is understood four or five other trialists were also expected at Oriel Park in the coming weeks even before Gartland’s injury although it is not known if any of these are defenders.
In better news for Dundalk, Daniel Kelly will be hoping to make his return from injury to face his old side on Friday while Central African Republic international Wilfried Zahibo could sign in time for the clash with Bohs, although the match after that against St Patrick’s Athletic remains a greater likelihood due to hotel quarantine arrangements and the knock-on effect that has on a player’s fitness and diet.
Asked about the former Valencia star before the Rovers game last week, team manager Shane Keegan said: “I think we’re very, very nearly there. We’re just trying to box it off collectively.
“I can’t see any circumstances under which it doesn’t happen so I think it’s just about wrapping it up and trying to get it over the line and getting an announcement out there and getting him in with the group.”
Asked would he be available for the clash with The Gypsies, Keegan said: “I’d say it could be a possibility at the moment if we can get him in and get some training sessions into him.”
Keegan also confirmed that American midfielder Taner Dogan and Canadian full back Terique Mohammed had returned to the club having initially been sent out on loan to Athlone Town but neither will be eligible to play for Dundalk until July having initially been registered with the Midlanders.
Both Bohemians and Dundalk, second and third in last season’s curtailed season, have taken just one point from their opening three matches to date and will be looking to kick-start their season at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Dundalk FC last week announced Permanent TSB as their new official banking partner. The partnership will see the Clanbrassil Street branch offer advice and support to club players, staff and supporters alike on financial decisions.