OLLIE Horgan says he has built a ‘completely new team’ as he aims to take Finn Harps away from the relegation quicksands this season.
Harps begin their 2020 season at home to Sligo Rovers on Friday-week and Horgan has had to make drastic, but enforced alterations to his squad.
A raft of departures left the cupboard bare while a recent season-ending injury for Mark Timlin added to Horgan’s woes.
“It has been as difficult an off-season as we could have,” Horgan said.
“This will take time and this is a completely new team. It’s a matter of seeing where we’re at. I don’t think we know ourselves what team we’ll put out, never mind the players.”
Horgan remains hopeful of landing Barry McNamee after the former Derry City captain trained with Harps in Stranorlar on Monday night.
“It would be a great statement if he signs,” Horgan said. “I hope that Barry does come in and tries to push us off the bottom of the table. We would love to have him.”
Horgan has managed to recruit the likes of Kosovar Sadiki on loan from Hibernian while he has lured Shaun Kelly, Dave Webster, Karl O’Sullivan, Shane McEleney and Leo Donnellan to Ballybofey.
Sadiki is on loan for the season from Scottish Premier League club Hibs, while Kelly, Webster and McEleney are among those recruited to fill the many voids in Harps’ rearguard.
Horgan said: “We lost Keith (Cowan), Josh (Smith), Harry (Ascroft), Jacob (Borg) and Niall (Logue). If you include John Kavanagh and Michael Gallagher, that’s seven defenders that we have lost. This will take time and this is a completely new team.”
Sadiki’s arrival came about by chance rather than design.
Horgan explained: “It was a strange one. I went to look at a player playing at the other end of the pitch who was out on loan in League One in Scotland. With the dealing with Hibs, Kosovar became available.
“Hibs trusted us to put him out. We’re hoping that we can give him game time and we are very thankful for Hibs trusting us. Hopefully we can repay some of that.”
Horgan had tried previously to get Donnellan’s services. The London-born former Republic of Ireland underage international spent time on the books at QPR. Contact was made with Horgan’s assistant Paul Hegarty in the winter and Horgan met the player in Cricklewood in recent weeks.
Horgan said: “He was recommended by the Irish underage set-up. He played under-16 and under-18. I spoke to him and his dad last year. He’s a good lad, but he doesn’t have a lot behind him. He has only played a couple of games. He doesn’t have many games under his belt. It will take time, but he’s a good kid and a good lad.”
Killybegs native Kelly is another that Horgan has tracked for some time. Having been based in Limerick and playing for Limerick FC, the full-back opted against moving to Harps before now.
However, a change of circumstance made it possible this time.
Horgan said: “We tried to get Shaun for a number of years but it just didn’t happen. He was in Limerick with his wife and kids. Probably out of the blue, they have decided to come home. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to play for us. He was working for Limerick and was playing locally.
“He’s come home now and we’re delighted to have him. He hasn’t played in quite a while so he has a bit to go, but he’ll add experience and quality.”