Dundalk are set to finally land a South Korean winger after being frustrated in their initial attempts.
Over the winter Han Eui-gwon had agreed terms for a move to Oriel Park from K League side Suwon Samsung Bluewings but failure to secure a work permit having been just one appearance shy of the quota required scuppered a move for the 26-year-old who has since signed for Seoul E-Land in his homeland.
Now Dundalk have turned their sights to another of his countrymen.
It is understood that the man in question is Han Jeong Woo, a 22-year-old right winger who has been capped at both U-18 and U-22 level for his country.
He is a free agent having departed Suwon FC in January after helping them to promotion to the top flight after a runner-up finish in K League 2 last season.
The player is understood to be currently in Ireland with his agent so a deal could be completed this week.
Speaking to The Argus earlier in the year, sporting director Jim Magilton had spoke about expanding the brand in Asia.
“We’re looking to expose and expand the brand as far as possible but he’s also a good player,” he said of Eui-gwon.
“If we can attract players from that part of the world it means that the Dundalk FC brand gets more exposure, the league gets more exposure and it could then open opportunities for other players to come into the league and we know that Korean players bring a fantastic attitude and work ethic and they’re top, top people,” said Magilton.
A potential move for Jeong Woo may not be Dundalk’s only business this week either. As revealed in last week’s Argus, Central African Republic international midfielder Wilfried Zahibo is expected to sign upon his arrival from France and he could be joined by fellow French born defender Tom Gaston. The former Bordeaux player, who has been capped at U-19 level by Ireland, trained with Dundalk last week. Australian goalkeeper Patrick Beach is also on trial with the Lilywhites at present with Armagh GAA goalkeeper Niall Brady also training with the first team.
With Raivis Jurkovskis and Sonni Nattestad away on international duty for Friday night’s home game against Finn Harps and Brian Gartland struggling with an injury that saw him press pre-season, Gaston could also be fast-tracked into the side if he impresses.
Dundalk had been hoping that the Finn Harps game, which kicks off at 5.45pm on Friday, would be postponed due to international call-ups but the club only discovered last Tuesday morning that this would not be possible due to what team manager Shane Keegan described as “one of the strangest rules” he has seen.
Clubs can have games called off if two or more players are away on international duty but this only applies to call-ups for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
With goalkeeper Alessio Abibi also said to be on the fringes of the Albanian squad that could leave Dundalk without several key players for not only the Finn Harps match this weekend but also the trip to face Waterford on September 3rd, the home fixture with reigning champions Shamrock Rovers on October 8th and the Louth derby with neighbours Drogheda Utd in the penultimate game of the season on November 12th.
Keegan called for the rule to be revised ahead of next season.
“In fairness to the FAI, the explanation I got was that this is a rule set out in the participation agreement which is something technically agreed by the clubs. It’s very black and white so we can’t argue.
“There’s no room for manoeuvre there really.
“We have plenty of quality there and it’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t become an issue by others stepping up to the plate.
“I think it’s something that the clubs will need to look at before the start of next year.
“I suppose it was something that was agreed without much thought because we didn’t really have mass volumes of internationals from outside of the Republic. I don’t really understand what the thinking was behind it but the FAI’s argument is that it’s not our rule, it is the participation agreement which is something that you’re involved with coming up with.
“It seems a very, very strange one because Abibi could be called up too. He has been in the past and he’s going to be in with a chance of being called up so it seems a strange one and it’s going to make life a little bit more difficult on ourselves but look we have good strength in depth too so we just have to try and cope with it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers’ trip to face Derry City this weekend has been postponed after Candystripes goalkeeper Nathan Gartside was called into the Northern Ireland squad. Asked would it give Dundalk an advantage to be playing ahead of the meeting of the two sides next week in Tallaght on April 2nd, Keegan said: “It all depends on the result against Finn Harps.
“If we get a win next weekend and we have momentum heading into the Rovers game then it definitely works in our favour all right. That’s the only way I can look at it really that if you get the win you have that bit of momentum whereas they might be caught a little bit cold but these things are always looked at with revision in that the result will dictate everything.
“If we beat Rovers in that game and we’ve played the week before then everybody will say Rovers were a bit rusty because they hadn’t had a game the previous week whereas if they beat us people will say they had more energy because they hadn’t played the previous week so it’s going to be the same either way,” said Keegan.