Harps hope to introduce “new faces”

A host of absentees including team captain and striker, Kevin McHugh, means the changes will continue as Finn Harps welcome league leaders Shelbourne to Ballybofey tomorrow night (Sat..

McHugh is suspended for the visit of Alan Mathews’ men and he will join Paddy McLaughlin, Packie Mailey and Marc Brolly on the sidelines. On the plus side, however, Peter Hutton and John Paul Gallagher are expected to make their first-team debuts for the club while full-back, James Doherty, will return from injury on a week when director of football, Felix Healy, said there could to be two new faces coming to the club from England.

“We will have news on a couple of players coming to the club in the next few days but before that we will concentrate on what we have,” said Healy.

“We have played almost every club in the league since Peter (Hutton) and myself came in so this will complete the series. We’ve progressed a bit and then gone back a bit, which is to be expected but Shelbourne will be a good test for us,” he added.

The Tolka Park side come to the Twin Towns venue with a faultless away points haul in the Airtricity League First Division thus far, with their eight wins on the road going a huge way to assisting their seven-point advantage over Cork City on the summit of the table.

Harps lost to the ‘Leesiders’ in their last home fixture a fortnight ago and then went down by the odd goal in five last weekend at Flancare Park against Longford Town. And it was during that match that McLaughlin picked up a hamstring injury which is likely to see the former Derry City and Coleraine defender sidelined for four to six weeks.

The main talking point after that game was the fact John Paul Gallagher was unable to play as his registration had been delayed by the Irish Football Association in Belfast.

Brolly, who got married last weekend, is currently on honeymoon, while Mailey, who has a broken bone in his foot, had his plaster removed on the advice of a specialist but is not progressing as had been hoped.

“Packie’s injury hasn’t really improved since getting the cast removed but we will continue to monitor his progress over the coming weeks. Paddy’s injury is a blow as he actually suffered the problem while getting fouled in the lead-up to Longford’ penalty last weekend, which levelled the game. It seems as though his hamstring is torn rather than pulled so he will not be available for a while.”

“We will have Stephen O’Donnell and John Paul available all going well, while Peter played for the ‘A’ team last weekend against Derry City. James Doherty (who had a medial ligament injury) is due to return to training this week having been out since the Salthill game.”

Shelbourne shaded the first meeting of the sides this season when a David Cassidy goal was enough to seal the three points for the Dubliners with McHugh in temporary charge of the team that night.