Dundalk FC returned to collective training for the first time in 89 days on Monday after a second round of tests on players and staff for Covid-19 came back negative last week.
Vinny Perth’s side are among the first in the country to return to training alongside Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians and Derry City as the four clubs begin preparations for a proposed mini-tournament in July to help gear them up for their respective European campaigns.
The Dundalk squad is set to be bolstered with two familiar faces ahead of their return to action with Americans Taner Dogan and Joshua Gatt (pictured above) set to be handed short-term deals by the club.
Harvard graduate Dogan trained with the Lilywhites in pre-season and featured off the bench in games against UCD, CFR Cluj, CSKA Moscow and Drogheda Utd before starting the 2-1 win over Crusaders in Seaview at the start of February.
Gatt, a twice capped USA international who played under current Manchester Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde in Norway, also featured for Dundalk FC in pre-season. He impressed in the friendly defeat against Longford Town at Oriel Park before departing with 21 minutes to go with a knee injury – a problem which has curtailed the 28-year-old’s career having had three major operations on it.
While it might seem strange to be adding to the squad at a time when the number of matches Dundalk FC will have to play for the remainder of the year is uncertain, the thinking behind it is to ensure that the Lilywhites can regularly play high intensity 11v11 games against each other when contact training is permitted in the coming weeks. This could prove crucial in helping the side to prepare for Europe, with UEFA due to meet on Wednesday June 17th to determine when this year’s Champions League qualifiers will take place.
One player who was particularly looking forward to getting going again is former Tottenham Hotspur winger Nathan Oduwa.
The 23-year-old had only signed for Dundalk two days before the league was shut down back in March and was back in London with his family for much of the period since having completed only two days of training with his new team-mates.
He told Dundalk FC’s new members’ podcast on Sunday evening that he didn’t think at the time it would be so long until he was back at Oriel Park but said he was looking forward to getting going again.
“It’s been a long three months but we’ve been given a training programme to do while we’ve been away and now I’m just itching to get back onto the field and show everyone what I can do.
“I’m just happy that we’re back now and that we can get the season up and running at least training wise and then we’ll see what is the next procedure. I feel ready and I’m sure the team feels ready as well. All the boys are itching to go really,” he said.