Dundalk head coach Filippo Giovagnoli is hoping his side’s new recruits give the team an element of surprise in the early weeks of the season.

While most of the new additions to squads across the league this winter are well known here, there is most certainly an unknown element to Dundalk’s five new recruits to date: goalkeeper Alessio Abibi, defenders Sonni Nattestad and Raivis Jurkovskis, midfielder Sam Stanton and forward Ole Erik Midtskogen.

“This is beautiful for the league,” said Giovagnoli.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on February 16th 2021

“Here in every game you know what to expect so now maybe you won’t know what to expect and that’s nice. I think it’s important.”

While traditionally slow starters over the years, Giovagnoli is hoping his side can hit the ground running as they attempt to wrestle the title back from Shamrock Rovers.

“We don’t want to start slow, we want to start strong. We want to make a statement right away. We’re going to be really aggressive from the beginning. I’ve no doubt on that. We are working for that.

“I think if we have our best team on the pitch then we’re going to be really strong. I hope to have headaches every weekend and I think I will because even with the new players that we’re going to sign we will have almost two players for every position so then they have to fight for their position.”

Dundalk face a difficult start to the new season with games against three of last year’s top four in their opening four league matches but Giovagnoli is confident his side will be ready for the challenge.

“In this league I don’t think there are any easy games. Whether you play someone in the third game or sixth game, it’s not going to change much.

“We just need to be ready and healthy and fit for the start of the league and we’re going to be. We just need to recover the players that are injured and then we’ll be okay because our team is strong.”

The Italian is also keen to see how Shamrock Rovers look this season having lost Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff to APOEL and Hearts over the winter.

“Shamrock will be a different team from last year because without Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff it’s going to be a different team. They cannot be the same.

“Nobody is going to be the same but of course if you replace a player with a player that you know then at least you know their individual characteristics but the way that they play is going to be different for sure. The style will change for sure but let’s see how they look. I’m curious because I’m a student of the game and I like this kind of challenge,” he said.