Dundalk head coach Filippo Giovagnoli has admitted that height was a factor when targeting new recruits for the club for next season.
In recent days the Lilywhites have wrapped up deals for 6ft 6in centre half Sonni Nattestad and 6ft 2in full back Raivis Jurkovskis to add to 6ft 5in goalkeeper Alessio Abibi and 6ft 4in striker Ole Erik Midtskogen, who joined before Christmas.
Asked was the height of the new recruits a factor or a coincidence, the Italian said: “In some positions, yes, we were looking to increase our size but also we want players that are really good on the ball.
“This is modern football. You’ve got to be big, fast and good on the ball. If you look around you can find these players. Yes, Alessio is big, Raivis is big, Ole is big and Sonni is an even bigger one,” he said.
The addition of 24-year-old Jurkovskis, a 13-times capped Latvian international, and 26-year-old Nattestad, who has 31 caps for the Faroe Islands, means that Dundalk have a current international in their ranks for the first time since Mick Fairclough in 1982.
Indeed, Giovagnoli revealed that he watched both face each other when Latvia played out a 1-1 draw with the Faroes in Riga last November.
“I was watching a game in which the Faroe were playing Latvia and I was looking at another player but then I saw Sonni and started to study him because he was the kind of player that we needed,” he said of his new centre half, who was an unused sub at Oriel Park when Dundalk drew with FH Hafnarfjordur in the Champions League qualifiers in 2016.
“He’s a centre back, big, strong and a lefty. He’s really educated in the build up. He can play in a four at the back system or three and he has international experience.
“He was one of the big talents in the Faroe Islands when he was young and went to play internationally in Denmark. Solskjaer also signed him when he was at Molde but then he got an injury so he was unlucky but he’s still young and wants to get back to a high level of football and I think he is going to do it because he has the tools to do so. He’s an animal, really good in the air and strong,” he said.
Giovagnoli also said that deciding to move for Jurkovskis was an easy decision.
“Raivis, we have no doubt about,” he said.
“When we had the opportunity to talk to him after scouting him I had no doubts about him. We moved really fast to try to lock him in because he is a really good full back who can play on both sides. He’s strong and big. We are really happy to have him and he’s another national team player.”