Dundalk captain Chris Shields insists his side “only have ourselves to blame” for their worst start to a season since his first at the club back in 2012.

However, the midfielder has challenged his side to bounce back in style when they travel to face reigning league champions Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night.

A 2-1 defeat to Finn Harps on the back of the opening day draw away to Sligo Rovers has piled early pressure on the Lilywhites ahead of a daunting run of fixtures which will see them face Rovers, Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic in their next three matches.

The article as it appeared in The Argus on March 30th

While it might be early in the season, Shields is well aware that the spotlight on Dundalk will grow further if they fail to win in Tallaght this weekend but despite a disappointing defeat to Harps on Friday – Dundalk’s first against the Donegal side since November 2007 – the 30-year-old feels another battle with Rovers could be the perfect game to help his side bounce back.

It’s a big game no matter when it comes in the season but it is just coming so early,” he said.

“I’m sure it will be the perfect game to bounce back because you can’t afford to put in another performance like that.

“We have no choice but to move on. There’s no point in wallowing in self pity going into a big game like that next Friday. We just have to get on with it on the training ground this week,” he said.

Asked would it take time for some of the new players in the squad to gel, Shields said: “Hopefully not because we don’t really have time on our side.

“You see the lads tonight and that’s their competitive debut and they’ve had an impact. Ryan (O’Kane) is only 17 and Chino (Jesus Perez) has only come over from America. He’s in a total different setup than he is used to but he has made an instant impact and hopefully more lads can be like them and kick on.

“It’s hard, we were missing Sonni. Although we’ll be missing Sonni again now for the ridiculous red card. It’s classic FAI, really looking after the suspension’s list. We were also missing Raivis. The lads are on international duty but we have a squad there and we should have been winning that game.”

Shields said he felt Foley’s second goal, which he thought was offside initially but was actually on, hurt Dundalk at a time when he thought his side were getting on top in the game.

“It kind of just took the wind out of our sails conceding the second goal because I thought we were well on top and we were starting to turn the screw really well.

“I think Ryan O’Kane was having a good effect when he came on, the same with Chino (Jesus Perez) when he came on for his debut and then their goal is just like a sucker punch.

“If you lose any game in this league especially Finn Harps at home then you’re going to be disappointed.

“Finn Harps are Finn Harps and they’re really good at what they do. Ollie and Hegsy probably don’t get enough praise for what they do within the budget that they have. They set up well and the way we expected them to set up and we’ve given them a goal coming up to half-time and it was a bad time to give a goal like that away,” said Shields.