United eye premier opposition for pre-season challenges

Galway United manager John Caulfield is excited about the considerable potential in his developing team ahead of Monday’s return to pre-season training.

Caulfield is optimistic United can make a serious bid for promotion in what promises to be a particularly interesting SSE Airtricity League first division campaign.

Shelbourne, Cork City, Bray Wanderers, and Athlone Town have also recruited extensively with Caulfield now busy preparing for the March 26 start date.

“I think it was right the league was delayed,” Caulfield says about the decision to delay the commencement of competitive fare until the end of March.

“It gave everyone another month to get their house in order. Looking at the way things are going a start date has been given, we are starting pre-season next week.

“Everyone is looking forward to that, 95 per cent of the squad is signed and ready to go.

“It is obviously going to be a very competitive season because lots of clubs have invested - Shelbourne, Cork, Athlone, Bray, ourselves - so from that point of view you can see that it is going to be another big season for all of the clubs. It is important for us to get back in with our new team, we are all looking forward to it.”

The United boss expects that four friendlies against top flight opposition will be announced soon.

“At the moment you will be allowed play teams that are also an elite team,” Caulfield reveals. “You can play any League of Ireland team at the moment, so provisionally we have four pre-season matches arranged, some towards the end of February, others in March.

“All of that has to be confirmed and ratified by the FAI, but we are hoping that we will play four Premier Division teams in pre-season.”

Following a busy spell signing players, Caulfield is thrilled to return to pitch action on Monday alongside new backroom members, Lisa Fallon and Gary O’Connor.

“Everyone on the management team is buzzing,” Caulfield says. “To be fair to all of the players, we have been in contact with them and they are all really looking forward. We have to be very rigid with the Covid restrictions, keeping in our own bubble which is great.

“Obviously we will be back up in Drom, fantastic facilities, we are delighted about that and we are all really looking forward. The main thing for us, and I have been saying it, is there is a lot of potential in the team. It is whether we can develop this into a new Galway United team.

“That is the challenge, that is what we are hoping to do. We are very excited about the players we've kept on and the players who have come in.

“It is up to us to mould a team that will be exciting and that can compete at the top, a team our supporters will love watching every week, albeit maybe on a streaming service. We are all certainly buzzing to get back in training now.”


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