DUNDALK manager Ian Foster has urged supporters to be patient as he continues to identify possible additions to his squad ahead of the 2011 season.
Foster has only two defenders on his books - Simon Madden and Nathan Murphy - following the departure of Garry Breen, Wayne Hatswell and Shaun Kelly in the off season and with the Malone Cup against Drogheda United pencilled in for next Friday, fans have become concerned about the club's lack of defensive cover.
However speaking on Tuesday, the 34-year-old said he was working hard to bring in replacements, both in the UK and on the domestic front.
"I'm looking across the water but it's not easy", said Foster. "If you take a player on loan the you have to pay a percentage of his wages, if not all of them, and then you have to accommodate them. We don't have that facility available. If we did then it would come out of the budget anyway.
"I am still speaking to managers with it being the January transfer window in the UK but they would probably feel that their players would be better off playing in the UK where they can watch them and get reports back every week."
Foster is refusing to panic, pointing out that at this time last year he had only five players on board. With his playing budget almost at stretching point he expects to bring in no more than two or three new faces. And any targets must not only fit the bill with their ability, but also with their financial demands.
"We won't be bringing in an awful lot more. We're nearly there", he said. "The last few players who we try and bring in will be very difficult because we don't have an awful lot of money. The ones that we want, others are in the market for them and when it becomes an auction we find it very hard to compete.
"If you look at Ciaran Kilduff, who left UCD to go to Shamrock Rovers last week, there was an issue of compensation there. That ruled us out", he added. "He's a good player, he has a bright future and he interested me but when there is compensation to be paid, it ruled us out straight away.
"I think we need to put things into perspective. For example, this football club had a bigger budget when it was in the First Division. If we look at where we are now, the budget we have is to stay in the Premier Division. At the same time I'm not saying to fans that we won't compete. We certainly will.
"Expectations in this town will always be big about the football club, that's one of the reasons why I came here but we can only afford what we can afford. That's why we have to be careful with who we bring in. We have to get the right player for the right money. I keep saying that but I can't and won't dive in and take the next player that comes available. They have to be the right one."
Foster also looks to have closed the door on the possibility of Liam Burns returning to Oriel Park. Last year's captain has yet to make contact with the club about two contract offers put to him at the end of last season and the Dundalk boss has now finally opted to look elsewhere.
"I don't see Liam coming back at this stage. I'm not waiting at the end of my phone for that call anyway. I'm in the market for centre halves and I'm not waiting around for people from last season to get back to me in the meantime."
A replacement for Wayne Hatswell is also expected to be announced this week with former Drogheda United manager Darius Kierans, Bohemians defender Owen Heary and Youth Development Officer Martin Connolly all mentioned as possible candidates.
Meanwhile the club have announced a sponsorship deal with Hyho Travel that provides real benefits to the club and it's supporters.
Hyho will offer Dundalk FC supporters an array of holidays and travel packages to multiple destinations By booking a holiday through a link on the club's official website, Hyho will pay a percentage of their industry commission to Dundalk FC.