Filippo Giovagnoli defended his decision to make 10 changes from the side which qualified for the group stages of the Europa League on Thursday night after Dundalk were held to a scoreless draw against Finn Harps at Oriel Park on Sunday.

Brian Gartland was the sole survivor from the starting 11 against KÍ Klaksvik 72 hours earlier but the changes failed to pay off as the Donegal men frustrated their opponents throughout.

The result means Dundalk remain in sixth place in the table, albeit with two games in hand on Waterford FC who currently sit in third place in the table.

Asked about the changes, Giovagnoli said: ‘I don’t know if it had a bearing on the result but of course when you change you can lose a little bit of balance.

‘We worked so hard to have these kinds of problems, to have a busy October and now we have a busy October. Now we have to find a balance to be competitive in all the competitions.

‘I’m disappointed with the result of course. It’s important for us to now pay a lot of attention to the league because we need to recover points but it’s not easy because our October is going to be really busy. We’re going to play every three days and it’s almost impossible to prepare the team. It’s just going to be play, recover, play, recover.

‘You shouldn’t be surprised (by the changes) because after two days you can’t expect them to play again. You guys don’t know the situation of our players physically. You cannot risk players who have injuries after two days. We have a strong roster and I’ll use all the players. That’s the only way if we want to perform in all the competitions and be successful.’

The 49-year-old admitted that the Europa League had taken precedence in recent weeks but said it was now important they got back to winning ways away to St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday (kick-off 7.45pm, live on WATCHLOI) to ensure they are back in Europe again next season.

‘Of course it’s important that we qualify for Europe next year but unfortunately we were in the middle of another competition and if we’re honest the focus was on the Europa League, completely. Otherwise I wouldn’t change 10 players. That’s the reality.

‘It’ll be crucial to win the next game and then the next one. We’ve always to win here. I’ve learnt that but that’s fine. It’s a challenge we accept.

‘We still have to win the rest of the games and at the end what is important is that we get a position to play in Europe next year. We’ll keep going but it’s good to have a busy October. That means we did something good,’ said Giovagnoli.

The Italian also refused to be drawn on speculation he had been offered a permanent role at the club, saying that he had spoken to chairman Bill Hulsizer about many aspects but that those talks were private.