Sam Stanton became Dundalk’s fifth new signing of the off season when he put pen to paper on a deal at Oriel Park last week.
The Scottish midfielder joins the Lilywhites from Phoenix Rising FC in America where he spent last season. Having previously been on the books of Hibernian and Dundee United in his homeland, there had been interest in the 26-year-old from Scottish Premiership side Ross County, where he had been on trial, but Dundalk pipped them to Stanton’s signature.
Speaking about his latest recruit, head coach Filippo Giovagnoli expressed the view that Stanton would be a big signing for Dundalk.
“Sam is a player that we scouted,” he said.
“We had a few players on the table but we decided he was the one to pick for his characteristics, for his knowledge of football and the environment in this part of the world.
“He’s a player who I think will fit well in this league. He has also some experience playing overseas and he did well in his country, especially with Dundee United.
“He’s a good, young, mature player and that fits into our profile. He’s a modern midfielder who can adapt, who can run and who can score. We really like him. He’s a big profile for us.”
Another midfielder who reported back for pre-season training this week is Will Patching who will be given a chance to prove himself this season despite rumours his two year deal had ended prematurely at the end of last season.
While Patching’s minutes were limited in his debut season in Ireland, Giovagnoli said he had high hopes for the 22-year-old.
“With me he played but then there were some kind of issues but with me, at the beginning, he played. He played many league games when before he wasn’t playing at all but he’s under contract and he’s young so let’s see how he’s going to do.
“He has abilities. He grew up in one of the best academies in the world and he was a talent there so let’s see what he’s going to do.
“At the end of the day what you do on the pitch will decide who is going to play, it’s not really me, it’s the pitch.”
Meanwhile, Stefan Colovic’s departure from Oriel Park, as exclusively revealed by The Argus, was confirmed with the Serbian winger joining FK Čukarički in his homeland.
On Colovic, Giovagnoli said: “Stefan is a talented player who the club invested in less than a year ago but it was his decision to leave.
“The majority of the players that left, it was their decisions, for many reasons but that’s fine we’ll replace quality with quality.”
Dundalk FC are expected to finalise a number of deals this week as the club gear up for a return to pre-season training.
With the FAI confirming that the league would re-commence on March 19th following the announcement that SSE Airtricity had renewed their sponsorship of the competition for another two years last week, it is also expected that fixtures will be released before the end of the month.
As revealed by The Argus two weeks ago, Sam Stanton remains the club’s top priority at present and it is understood that a deal for the Scottish midfielder is close.
The 26-year-old, who had most recently been on the books of Phoenix Rising in America, had been on trial at Scottish Premiership side Ross County but departed last week to pursue a deal with another club.
Ross County boss John Hughes said: “He has decided to go elsewhere.
“He was a young kid at Hibs with me that had everything in front of him. You could see the quality he had. For some reason he has never really fulfilled that potential. He was always in my book for when he became available. When I brought him here on trial he enjoyed it. I told him he needed to play football in the Premiership and make a name for himself and be the Sam Stanton we all knew as a young kid. He was right up for it. It just so happens that there’s another club come in for him. He felt that’s where he wants to be. No hard feelings.”
The club are also expected to push through a deal for South Korean winger Han Eui-kwon following his departure from the Suwon Samsung Bluewings, although that one could take a little longer due to the requirement for a work permit.
With American underage international Alex Rando also set to arrive, attention will also move towards the recruitment of another more senior goalkeeper to challenge recent recruit Alessio Abibi for the number one jersey.
Off the field, Dundalk have added Lorcan Mason to their coaching staff after two years with the Shamrock Rovers academy. The 23-year-old has been brought in as the new first-team sports scientist following Adam Fox’s departure and will assist strength and conditioning coach Graham Norton.
One person who will not be working behind the scenes at Oriel Park next season though is club doctor Dr David Connolly whose departure from the club was confirmed last week.
Dr Connolly had worked with Dundalk since just before the Champions League tie with FH Hafnarfjordur in the summer of 2016. “I would like to publicly thank David for his expertise and guidance during his time at Oriel Park,” said Lilywhites sporting director Jim Magilton.
“We wish him well with his future endeavours and we look forward to seeing him back at Oriel Park, cheering the team on, in the, hopefully, not too distant future.”
Dundalk FC remain hopeful of securing a deal to sign Scottish midfielder Sam Stanton despite interest in him in his homeland.
The Argus exclusively revealed last week that the former Hibernian player was a target for the Lilywhites following his recent release from Phoenix Rising FC in American where he won the Western Conference last year and reached the USL Championship Final, which was cancelled due to Covid-19.
Talks with the 26-year-old former U-21 international have been ongoing in recent days with sources suggesting that a deal could still happen despite strong interest from Scottish Premiership outfit Ross County.
Boss Filippo Giovagnoli has made no secret of the fact that midfield is now his top priority with the need to strengthen in this position heightened by Jordan Flores’ departure for Hull City last week.
A Lithuanian midfielder is also understood to be on the club’s radar but Stanton remains the number one target for now.
A deal for South Korean winger Han Eui-Kwon is also said to be progressing with the 26-year-old expected to shortly wrap up a deal to join Dundalk following his release from Suwon Samsung Bluewings. Young American goalkeeper Alex Rando is also expected to complete his move shortly too with the club remaining in the market for another keeper to provide competition to the recently signed Alessio Abibi.
It is also understood that the club would be interested in bringing Richie Towell back to Oriel Park if the price was right.
The midfielder scored an impressive 54 goals in 126 appearances for the club between 2013 and 2015 before departing for Brighton and Hove Albion. Currently on the books of League Two side Salford City, the 29-year-old will be out of contact in the summer with suggestions that he is eyeing a move home after five-and-a-half years in England.
Currently out injured, it is unlikely that Richie Wellens’ side would contemplate Towell’s departure now despite him having played just 22 minutes since scoring in the 2-2 draw against Tranmere Rovers in October.
As well as Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers are also keeping an eye on the former PFAI Player of the Year’s situation but there are fears his demands could price himself out of a move back to the club where he earned cult status in the number 17 shirt for three seasons under Stephen Kenny.
Meanwhile, it is understood that chief operating officer Martin Connolly has parted company with Dundalk FC after being put on gardening leave by the club in December. A statement on the matter is expected from the club when the ins and outs of his exit are finalised.