DESPITE his side’s poor start to the season, Dundalk manager Sean McCaffrey has once again defended his policy of recruiting youngsters, saying that a lack of finance was the reason for not bringing in experienced players.
“I didn’t have the budget to bring experienced players in”, he said. “That’s the reality. I like the youth policy but for successful teams I think it has to be a mixture.
If you look at the St Pat’s side that played here, we spoke to eight of them but couldn’t get any of them. We spoke to four from Shamrock Rovers, four from Sligo Rovers, three from Derry City.
“We just don’t have the money to attract them so you’re trying to get young players who are cheaper.
“People talk about last year and I hear rumours that this year’s budget is as big as last year’s, it certainly is not. There was one player on 875 Euro a week last year and that’s effectively the wage of the two highest players we have this year. We can’t afford that, we don’t have it.
“I would love to go out and sign the likes of Eamonn Zayed and players like that. I’d sign them in a heartbeat but we don’t have the money.”
McCaffrey also compared Dundalk’s budget to other clubs, claiming that clubs like St Patrick’s Athletic were spending almost 900k per annum on players wages.
“I don’t think the club is financially on the brink but it’s certainly not in a position to challenge the big clubs”, he added.
“We have a wage bill of 6k a week at a squeeze. You compare that to Shamrock Rovers who have 30k, Sligo Rovers, over 20k, Derry City, 18k, St Patrick’s Athletic have 22k, there’s no comparison.
“You have to cut your cloth accordingly and sign young, cheaper players and try and get the best out of them. You need time to do that but knowing the Dundalk philosophy and the demand for success, I don’t know if we’ll get time to do that.”
One of the only bright spots of the season to date has been the progress of Ben McLaughlin. The 17-year-old has impressed since making his debut against UCD and McCaffrey said that a number of UK clubs have been running the rule over the full-back.
“There have been enquiries about Ben from Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesborough. There’s interest in him but whether that turns into something solid, we shall wait and see.
“Is Ben better off staying where he is and playing League of Ireland first-team football or is it better to go to England and playing academy football. Theres a lot of those fellas that could push on and play at a higher grade.”
Dundalk’s next assignment is a trip to Cork City on Friday night. The Lilywhites will again be without the trio of Liam Burns, Chris Shields and Derek Foran.
McCaffrey said that both Burns and Foran could miss the next three games with ankle and back injuries respectively. Shields will miss Friday’s game at Turner’s Cross through suspension but will return for the visit of Bray Wanderers on May 11.