Dundalk team manager Shane Keegan is hopeful of having some players back from injury for his side’s first home league match of the season against Finn Harps on Friday (kick-off 5.45pm, live on WATCHLOI).

Having only named seven subs instead of the nine allowed for their draw away to Sligo Rovers on Saturday night, the Lilywhites will now be without both Raivis Jurkovskis and Sonni Nattestad for the visit of Ollie Horgan’s men due to international duty for Latvia and the Faroe Islands respectively.

Brian Gartland, who had hoped to be back in the squad for the trip to Sligo, suffered a setback in his attempted return from injury last week while Daniel Kelly and Sean Murray remain sidelined at present.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on March 23rd 2021

While Gartland and Kelly both have a chance of making this weekend, Keegan is hopeful that youngster Val Adedokun will also be available.

Asked why Dundalk only named seven subs in Sligo, the 39-year-old said: “Bodies and injuries.

“Garts had a little bit of a setback in terms of his recovery. We’re still a couple of bodies down with Daniel Kelly and Sean Murray so we need to get a few more back because we’re down a couple of bodies for the next game but at the same time we still have serious strength in depth.

“We’ll have a look at it during the week. There is a chance that we might manage to get one or two more bodies back. I don’t think Val’s injury would definitely rule him out for next week yet. I think Daniel Kelly may have a chance as well.

“We need to see over the weekend how Garts has reacted to his little bit of a setback.

“Again, I don’t think we can overly whinge or moan about missing a couple of bodies. We’ve got real strength in depth and we’ve got quality all over the field so we should be able to cope. You’re going to be down a couple of bodies be it from international duty, suspension or injury over the course of the season and you just have to deal with it as best you can.

“I mean you can only bring on a certain amount of bodies too. The 20 player thing is probably a help in terms of less lads dissatisfied at not actually making the match day squad but does it affect how you can actually impact a game? No because the first five subs who you’re likely to use are the first five whether you’re naming 18 or 20.”

Following their opening day victory over Bohemians at Finn Park, this will be the Donegal outfit’s first visit to Oriel Park ahead of Dundalk in a league table since first half goals from Gary Crossan and Kevin McHugh earned them a 2-0 victory on August 26th 2004.

After their strong finish to last season, Keegan is expecting a tough test from a Harps side who drew 0-0 on their last visit to Oriel Park last October.

Anything you say about Harps at this stage sounds clich├ęd but they’re still true,” he said.

“Ollie, you just don’t ever get an easy game off him. Their tails will be up on the back of that one so it probably does make it a little bit even tastier again.”