Ollie Horgan says his new-look Finn Harps will need time to gel once they finally get their 2018 season up and running on Friday night.
Harps host Shelbourne at Finn Park to get the campaign off to a belated beginning, a fortnight after poor floodlighting saw their game in Drogheda called off at the eleventh hour.
Last Friday’s planned home game with Longford and Monday’s EA Sports Cup tie against Mayo League were both shelved due to the bad weather.
“We’re chasing a bit already because we had the first game called off,” Horgan said.
“The first two or three games won’t dictate the way the season pans out. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and are a new team, a new squad and it will take us time to get our best eleven on the pitch.
“I think it will take a long while. We won’t know what we’re like until we get going.”
Paddy McCourt has emerged as a ‘major doubt’ for the game, Horgan confirmed.
The former Celtic winger hasn’t trained ‘for the last few weeks’, his manager said. McCourt had been named to start against Drogheda and was regularly cast as ‘doubtful’ in Harps’ bulletins last season.
New signing Eric Whelan and Gareth Harkin are both out of the game. Whelan will miss a couple of weeks with a groin problem.
Harkin, Horgan said, ‘needs time out and it’s a question of how long we can give him’. Harkin could yet feature among the substitutes, but the situation regarding captain Ciaran Coll is not quite as clear cut.
The St Johnston man has been nursing an ankle ligament injury that has been slow to heal.
Horgan said: “The risk is what happens if we play him. If it was a Cup final or the last game of the season, we’d throw him in no bother. We have to be sure that he’s okay.”
Shels, managed by Owen Heary, lost 2-1 to UCD in their opening game, falling to defeat after going one-nil in front.
“Shelbourne have as good a chance as anyone of winning the First Division,” Horgan said.
“Shelbourne will be good to watch. The First Division isn’t like the old days. You used to have the likes of Salthill Devon – and that’s with no disrespect; I played with them – coming and trying to get a result, but teams now come and expect.
“Shelbourne have taken down half of Bohs’ old team with Owen Heary. The likes of Dean Delaney, Derek Prendergast, Dave Mulcahy and Lorcan Fitzgerald, they’re all Premier Division players.
“Most teams are like that now in the First Division. It will be an attractive League with its quality, but that brings its own difficulty too.
“Shelbourne also have maybe eight or nine of last year’s team there, whereas we don’t have that. With Ciaran, Paddy and Gareth injured, it takes that number down even more for us.
“We have a brand new team and it will definitely need time.”Tags: