Dundalk FC manager Stephen Kenny. PICTURE: TOM BEARY

DFC | Kenny fearful of losing stars to UK

Benson, McMillan, McEleney and Vemmelund all linked with moves away from Oriel Park

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny admits that the lure of playing in the UK may prove irresistible to some of his star players.

Patrick McEleney, David McMillan, Robbie Benson and Niclas Vemmelund are just four of Kenny’s squad who will be out of contract at the end of the season.

McEleney has been linked with a number of English clubs in recent months while McMillan and Benson have been watched by Scottish Premier Division side, St Johnstone.

Speaking after the 1–0 defeat to Bohemians on Friday night, Kenny conceded that it ‘might be difficult’ to hold onto Vemmelund.

The Dane has been offered a two-year contract by Dundalk but his management company — and his girlfriend’s Instagram account — suggest he could be on the way back to Scandinavia.

Dundalk lost Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle to Preston at the end of last season and Kenny said he is bracing himself for more departures.

“We’re very keen to keep those players, of course we are,” he said, “but there’s an inevitability of interest from the UK so we’ll have to wait and see.

“It’s a situation that is quite frustrating,” he continued. “There’s nothing we can do. It’s a free market, players are free agents and it’s just something that we have to contend with.”

Closer to home, Shamrock Rovers are monitoring Sean Gannon’s situation. The full-back is also out of contract in November and has plenty of admirers at his former club.

Rovers are also believed to be considering a move for Brian Gartland — who is under contract with Dundalk for 2018 — but Kenny said that rumours linking Dane Massey with a move to Tallaght are unfounded.

“Dane is under contract for another year so that’s not the case,” he said.

Kenny has identified players he wants to bring to the club with Cork City attacker Karl Sheppard set to make the switch from the league champions to Oriel Park at the end of the season.

It’s a transfer that backs up Kenny’s belief that Dundalk is still the number one destination for any player in the League of Ireland.

“There are lots of reasons for players to want to play here,” he said. “They realise it’s an unprecedented period in the club’s history and winning the FAI Cup final in a couple of weeks time at the Aviva Stadium would cap an incredible four years here.

“Winning the cup is a huge incentive for the players,” he added. “I was saying to the ones that have been here for four years that they could win three league titles, two FAI Cups and two League Cups. That’s a huge motivation.

“We’re hungry to have more European nights and we want to regain our league title next season so there’s plenty of reasons for players to want to be here.”

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