Team news: Rovers set to begin new season vs Dundalk

Sligo Rovers begin the 2021 SSE Airtricity League season on Saturday evening as FAI Cup holders Dundalk visit The Showgrounds.

The match is available to purchase here on #WATCHLOI. Kick-off is 6pm.

Liam Buckley begins his third season at The Showgrounds, having secured European football on the final day of the last league campaign against the Lilywhites.

The Bit O’ Red’s good form in the 14 matches for the second part of last season included two wins over Dundalk.

However, the visiting side have also enjoyed a good record in The Showgrounds in some key games, including an FAI Cup semi-final in 2019.

Rovers have six new signings in the squad, as well as the return of Richard Brush and Romeo Parkes for fourth and second spells at the club.

The Bit O’ Red have no absentees for the game. Ryan De Vries joined training from Wednesday following the end of his quarantine period.

Danny Kane signed for the club on Thursday after successfully coming through pre-season.

A number of academy players have impressed during pre-season and could be part of the squad.

Liam Buckley said: “I’m happy with the squad and the business we have done. It was our aim to improve on last season and overall it has gone quite well. We wanted a better balance to the squad this year.

“It’s not a particularly big group, but we have a lot of good technically players. We’re not going to have several senior players sitting in the stand each week, so all of the players will make a contribution. That was the way it was last season.

“We have a number of new players and a lot of the younger players are progressing as well, so there are some changes. It is important we gel together as soon as we can. We’ve done a lot of work in the last number of weeks to be as ready as we can for Saturday night and for the entire season to come.

“I’m looking at the teams in league and I know it’s going to be as competitive as ever. There are lots of clubs targeting European places or more. We’re not under any illusions here of the task at hand to match or improve on last year, but that is what we want. We want to be the best we can be and see where it can take us. It’s a tough start on Saturday but we’re excited to start our season and see what we can do.”

Buckley has said he expects a very tough test on Saturday against Dundalk.

“People say Dundalk are transitioning but nearly every club in the league has made a lot of new signings. They’ve brought in a lot of proven quality as well as full internationals. It’s going to be a real battle and we have to be up for that because of the quality Dundalk have.

“It is behind closed doors but I do expect a real intensity to the game. We know we have the support of everyone watching on from home and we’re going to give it our all on Saturday and this season.”