Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth has played down speculation that the club could be about to sign free agent Daniel Lafferty.

The former Derry City left back is a free agent having been released from Sheffield Utd at the end of last season. While it is understood that the 30-year-old has been offered to the Lilywhites along with two other players, there is also interest from a number of English clubs, including Bradford City, and teams in both Scotland and America in his services.

Asked about the 13-times capped Northern Irish international, Perth said: “There’s nothing to say really.

“There are about 10 players of that calibre currently available. Obviously we’re always looking at good players and Daniel is certainly that but we have two quality left backs already so I don’t feel we need a third.”

Dundalk could look to return for Lafferty in January if he is still available but are unlikely to move for him now before the end of the current season with just 10 league matches to play.

Of more pressing concern to the 43-year-old is a busy week ahead. Last night (Monday) Dundalk were in action in the EA Sports Cup semi-final at home to Bohemians while this Friday they travel to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium to face Derry City in the FAI Cup second round (kick-off 7.45pm). That game is then followed up by a league double header with UCD, the first of which is at Oriel Park on Monday night followed by a trip to the UCD Bowl on Friday.

Looking ahead to the two cup games, Perth said: “Both are really, really difficult games.

“When we play Derry it will be our sixth game in 17 days if I’m not mistaken and then when we play UCD the following Monday it will be seven games in 20 days so we’re being pushed to the pin of our collar.

“There’s a lot of noise going on about are we playing as many games as we should but we can’t physically play any more games. It’s going to be difficult. We’ve got a lot of niggles. People are sore and mentally sore as well so it’s about how we manage the group between now and then.

“You can’t play everybody that we’d like. There’s niggles in behind but you seen Flores and Benson out on the pitch on Friday and it’ll be massive having them back over the next week or two and having them back available is going to be important to us.”

Perth made six changes to his side from Tuesday’s Europa League exit to Slovan Bratislava for Friday’s 5-0 league win at home to Finn Harps and he said he felt that was crucial to the outcome.

“I think the ability to freshen the team up obviously helped us and it gave us an opportunity to give some people some game time.

“There was a bit of hunger back in the group. As a group we were hurting but we spoke about putting a performance in for the supporters.

“There’s no doubt we’ve taken a lot of criticism over the last week and some of that is merited but I think most of that criticism should be aimed at me. I don’t think the players have let us down in any way, shape or form. I think it should be on the staff’s shoulders and my shoulders.

“I think they’ve responded brilliantly tonight. All we can do now is concentrate on things domestically. We drew a line under Europe as a group the other day. It’s not really for the players to learn from now. It’s for me and the staff to learn from what went wrong in Europe and fix it in January with the players. I want them to concentrate on things domestically and concentrate on being the best they can between now and the end of the season.

“We have a big week ahead of us with the semi-final and one of the toughest draws we could have faced in the FAI Cup so it was good to be able to freshen up the team,” he said.
Perth also praised Patrick McEleney after he produced a man of the match display on Friday to coincide with his first two goals of the season.

“Patrick in the second half against Slovan I thought was outstanding and he probably needed that little bit of the old fashioned kick where it hurts.

“He has bounced back but he’s a top, top player and someone we have the highest regard for.”

Perth admitted the European exit in Tallaght last Tuesday hurt him and the team but said he and the side would focus on getting better so that they can learn from this year’s experience.

“That was a really difficult result to take on Tuesday. The squad was hurt and my own chin was on the ground but I’ve always believed in tomorrow. Tomorrow is how I make myself better.

“I went to bed after the game the other night hurt but I said that I have to get up tomorrow and be better and I think I’ve got to do that again. We’ve got a semi-final now and a Cup tie but we’ve got to be obsessed about getting better now and that’s what we’ll do.

“Honestly there’s been no talk of doubles or trebles or anything like that.

“First and foremost all we’re concentrated on is the League Cup. We want to be in the final and that’s all we’re concentrated on,” he said.