Filippo Giovagnoli says he will continue to use sports science to manage his squad over the hectic period which starts tonight (Tuesday) against Cork City at Turner’s Cross (kick-off 7.45pm).
That is the first of three matches in the space of six days for Dundalk, who also host Bohemians at Oriel Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.45pm) before travelling to face Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium on Monday (kick-off 7.45pm).
Giovagnoli was criticised for making 10 changes to his side for recent league matches against Shamrock Rovers and Finn Harps but with nine matches in the next 27 days, the Italian will no doubt have to rotate his squad again to keep players fresh.
Speaking to The Argus ahead of the start of that hectic run, the 49-year-old said he will be relying heavily on local company STATSports to assist this process.
“We are really scientifically managing the squad to be ready for the next 15-20 days of October and into November when we’re going to be really busy.
“All the players are hopefully going to be available this week. Dane Massey is the only one with a long injury. The rest we are managing really well.
“Now that the players have rested I can pick the squad that I want to play the Cork game so I’m happy that we got to rest and prepare.
“I’m also conscious of the fact that we’re going to have another game in three days so we have to be smart in how we manage the squad.
“It’s a little bit more complicated than usual but it’s fine. We want to be in this situation, trust me, and I hope next year it’s the same. It would mean that we’ve done well again.”
While the Europa League has been a welcome distraction for Dundalk of late, one win in seven in the league since the restart means the reigning champions need to get points on the board to ensure they qualify for Europe again next season.
“We need three points in every game, not only in Cork,” said Giovagnoli.
“That’s our situation now. We have to recover our position in the league.
“Our Europa League journey has affected our league games. We have to be honest about that. We’ve had a massive turnover of players for our league games and that can unbalance you at times but I’m happy that I now have all the players available.
“That was scientifically what we were doing because we have to be ready when we have to be ready. We can’t just play the next two, three or four and then we’re gone. We have to do well in all the games from here and that includes the Europa League campaign because it is important for the club and the town.”
Asked did he expect injuries to build up given his side’s punishing schedule for the next few weeks, Giovagnoli said he hoped this could be avoided.
“We are trying to work to avoid any kind of injury. We’re measuring minutes, our practices and everything. It is scientific work that started after Sheriff. We’ve started to rotate players to make sure they recover in the right way and train in the right way. That involves a lot of communication with the medical team and the fitness coach.
“It’s not about being tactical, it is about being healthy. It’s not ideal to have to do this as a coach. It was nice though to have these five or six days of practice last week where we can implement our ways of playing.
“In these two games this week we’re going to go at both strong because we’ve prepared for them.
“Some of the players can play after three days and it’s not a big deal. It’s about understanding who can do that scientifically and then you need to pick the right players. It’s one thing when it’s a one-off but when you’ve to play three games every three days then there’s a risk but it is doable.
“Players are strong and professional but injuries are all over the place. You can not train and do everything well but then when you come back to practice all of a sudden you can break a finger. You still have to do everything possible to prevent injuries.
“I know we’ve had some criticism about our recent games and I understand that but only people who work inside here know what we go through and how professional the decisions are. We make them because they’re the best for the players. I don’t pretend that people can understand everything but it’s our job to manage it.”