Cork City boss John Caulfield expects rivals Dundalk to restore faith in their old reliables as the champions face a trip to Oriel Park on Friday night (8pm, live on eirSport2).
The Lilywhites have undergone change on and off the pitch since last season. Investment group Peak6 have taken control of the club and have helped manager Stephen Kenny to draft in players from Hungary, Lithuania, and Norway.
With the weather putting paid to last weekend’s League of Ireland fixture programme, Dundalk opted to play a challenge match against Irish League side Warrenpoint on Sunday, winning 4-0 with the goals coming from four new signings in Karolis Chvedukas, Krisztián Adorján, Sam Byrne, and Marco Tagbajumi.
Caulfield however, feels the dangers on Friday night will come from closer to home.
“They’ll be back to basics,” said Caufield. “Brian Gartland hadn’t played for them but he played last Sunday, and Stephen O’Donnell played last week.
“I think a lot of the foreign players won’t play. Stephen Kenny likes to stick to players he’s known for a while.
“Pat Hoban (re-signed by the club in November) has been there before even though he’s only coming in, and Ronan Murray has been in our league at Galway last year.
Like all clubs, City’s preparations were hampered by last week’s snowfall but Caulfield has tried to use it as a positive and a break from a hectic early season schedule. City have been on the road three times already this season, with a 4-2 President’s Cup win over Dundalk, followed up by away league wins at St Pat’s and Sligo, as well as a Munster derby win at Turner’s Cross over Waterford.
“In some ways, the cancellation was good, believe it or not,” Caulfield contends. “Since the season started we’ve gone from the Presidents Cup to playing Friday, Monday, Friday, so there was a bit of overload when you get that so early in the season. A few days off was welcome, and gave guys a bit of a chance to recover.
“It probably dragged on but all clubs were affected and clubs were struggling to train like ourselves but we’re back in since Sunday and back on track.”
City have no fresh injury concerns and striker Josh O’Hanlon is back in training, and could yet feature on Friday night.