Dundalk FC's Patrick McEleney, in action against Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park on Friday night, was injured and is expected to spend time on the sidelines. (Pic: Ben McShane/Sportsfile)
Dundalk FC have been dealt a huge blow with the news that both Robbie Benson and Patrick McEleney face extended stays on the sidelines after injuries sustained in the opening night draw against Sligo Rovers at Oriel Park.
The reigning champions were left frustrated by the Bit O’ Red – although truthfully they did not do enough to test goalkeeper Ed McGinty in the second half – but it is the absence of their midfield pair that will hurt them long beyond those 90 minutes.
Benson was taken out by 19-year-old McGinty just six minutes into Vinny Perth’s first league game at the helm, but the devastation of that injury will be long-lasting with a prognosis of at least a two-month recovery period after he suffered a fractured fibula.
That was the feared outcome soon after Benson was caught under the body of the outrushing stopper, but, after that was confirmed, the real blow came with McEleney who is set to miss six weeks with a fractured metatarsal.
The 26-year-old Derryman is a key component in Dundalk’s set-up, and after limping away in the 83rd minute on Friday the immediate hope was that he would be fit to return for the upcoming visit to Shamrock Rovers on March 1.
However, Perth and his management team must now prepare without two of their first choice starting XI for a prolonged period, where the Lilywhites face seven league games between now and the end of March.
Englishman Jordan Flores – who many believe would not be operating at this level were it not for his injury woes – will be involved in tonight's Leinster Senior Cup tie with Athlone Town, but fellow midfielder Jamie McGrath remains “10 days to two weeks away from full-contact training”.
Even before Friday’s injuries, Dundalk were chasing two signatures prior to the February 22 transfer deadline, with a goal-poaching striker among the targets as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of a tricky trip to Finn Harps.