Dundalk FC face the prospect of missing out on a friendly match against Celtic in Celtic Park this weekend due to the ongoing travel restrictions as part of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The game, which would be a repeat of the European Cup clash from 1979, was pencilled in for this Saturday as part of the club’s preparations for the return of the SSE Airtricity League on July 31st and their Champions League qualifier on August 18th.
However, with the Government still advising against non-essential travel, it is now unlikely that the trip to Scotland will proceed.
At the time of going to print, no official decision had been made to cancel the game.
It is understood that in the unlikely event that Scotland is included on the Government’s Green List, which had been due to be published on Monday, then Dundalk would travel to the game via ferry with Covid-19 testing taking before and after the trip. However, given the players and staff would need to quarantine for 14 days if they travelled at present, it is unlikely that they will be able to fulfil a fixture which, under normal circumstances, would likely have been of huge interest.
Manager Vinny Perth did not wish to comment on the game given its up-in-the-air nature, saying the decision would ultimately be made by the board when the Green List was published.
“There’s a bit of TBC around the weekend,” he said.
“We’ll play both games tonight and tomorrow and then we’ll assess where everybody is,” he said of last night’s game against Athlone Town and tonight’s (Tuesday) against Longford Town.
“We may play a match against a local side on Thursday if people need minutes. Effectively it would be an U-19 match but there might be a three or four involved from the first team who need minutes. We’ll assess then at the weekend what we’ll do ahead of Pat’s on Friday week.
“We’ve options for the weekend, not just Celtic, so we’ll see,” he said.
Perth said he was “very happy” with performances this week in the 4-1 and 1-0 wins over Bohemians and Drogheda Utd respectively.
“The last one there was a bit of tiredness, mentally more than physically after three games in a week but we were very happy,” he said.
“There was rustiness there but that is to be expected and that’s the point behind the games.”
Perth also said he had high hopes for Nathan Oduwa, who caught the eye with his first full 90 minutes against Drogheda Utd on Friday.
“He just needs to know how we play and work on certain aspects of his own game,” said Perth.
“He’s a young lad with a huge amount of ability. I wouldn’t say he has never been coached because he has been at some high end clubs but from chatting to him he has never really had coaches who’ve sat down with him and explained what they wanted him to do.
“Nathan will take time but it’s good to have options like that. He’ll give us something a bit different. As I keep saying last year our only wingers were Duffy, Kelly and Mountney so we’ve really changed that.”
The manager also has high hopes for young centre half Andrew Quinn who has been promoted from the U-19s to the senior squad for recent games with Sean Hoare and Brian Gartland sidelined through injury.
“He’s a real prospect,” Perth said of the Meath-based defender.
“Our U-19s, we don’t shout about it like other clubs but between Mark Hanratty, Gabriel Adebambo, Ronan Kilkenny and another few we’ve really seen them push to be involved. We’ve four or five now already on professional contracts.
“There are a lot of young players coming through. I think the underage level at the club is really working and Andrew is the latest of them.
“It’s a long way through for him particularly with the four centre halves we already have at our club but he’s a real prospect.
“We’ll give him time. He needs the rest of this year to become a professional first and foremost because that’s the difference, we’re a full time professional club whereas the U-19s in Ireland generally are part-time and that’s the difference really between Ireland and most other modern leagues. He has to get used to training every day but he’s a prospect who we believe in and we think he has a real chance.”
Meanwhile, Lido Lotefa is expected to join Longford Town on loan for the remainder of the season.