Dundalk boss Filippo Giovagnoli is sweating on the fitness of midfield duo Sean Murray and Patrick McEleney ahead of Thursday’s Europa League tie against Rapid Wien at the Allianz Stadion in Vienna (kick-off 5.55pm, live on Virgin Media Two).
Both players limped out of last week’s 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and did not travel to Richmond Park on Sunday for the Lilywhites’ 1-1 draw with St Patrick’s Athletic in the league.
While McEleney told Derry Now’s Gary Ferry at the weekend that he fears he may miss the rest of the season over his latest groin problem, Giovagnoli said after the game in Inchicore that he was still awaiting on the results of scans on both players to determine the extent of their injuries.
“I’m waiting to know from the medical staff because they had a check,” he said when asked about the midfield duo.
“We’re waiting to see what is going on. Let’s hope we can recover one of them for Thursday or at least for next Sunday.”
In better news for the manager, who will also have one eye on Sunday’s league match at home to Sligo Rovers (kick-off 7.45pm, live on WATCHLOI), he expects to have Daniel Kelly and Nathan Oduwa back in contention for the trip to Vienna this week following respective knee and hamstring injuries sustained against Bohemians last month.
“Kelly and Oduwa are going to be back on Monday or Tuesday,” he said.
The Italian said he remained confident that his side could secure European football next season.
“We have a game at home and why wouldn’t I be confident,” he said.
“We’re going to prepare to win the game but we were doing that no matter what. Even had we won against St Pat’s it doesn’t change much but now we have another objective. Then we have to see what the other teams do.
“For more than a month we’re playing every three days. Everyone knows what is going on. We’re trying to achieve all the objectives in front of us. We achieved the first which was to qualify for the Europa group stages and now we’ve to get third position in the league.”
While disappointed not to have beaten St Patrick’s Athletic on Sunday, Giovagnoli admitted the 1-1 draw was a fair result.
“I think Pat’s deserved the result. They were more aggressive and they looked more fresh than us but this is the situation right now. We have another week to get what we want and qualify for Europe next season.
“We were trying to get the job done tonight of course. We prepared to get the job done but it’s not easy because your opponent needs points too. St Pat’s need points to either avoid relegation or go to Europe because they’re in the middle of this and looking at what Finn Harps are doing it’s not easy for nobody right now but it is what it is. What counts at the end of the day is the objective and for us the objective is to get third position.”
Giovagnoli said the formation for the game was as much out of necessity due to the players he had available as wanting to implement something new.
“It was a little bit of both because we were missing a lot of midfielders.
“We played with this system against Arsenal and we were really organised and defending really well but to develop a new system you need time but we have no time now so it was more circumstances.”
The coach added there were no developments as yet on either his own contract for next season or any of the 18 out of contract players at the club.
“We are discussing everything and we’re into the details but everything is going in the right direction.”
Asked was it a concern that just over five weeks out from the end of the season things had yet to be sorted, he said: “Not really because we have so many things to do and we have to be really focused on achieving the objectives. What is going to happen next season is kind of secondary. It is what it is. This is the situation now.”
Meanwhile, Dundalk will be away to Athlone Town in the FAI Cup semi-finals if they can beat Bohemians in their quarter-final tie which is provisionally fixed for Friday November 14th at Dalymount Park.