Responding to a question about reports linking Karl Sheppard with a move to Dundalk, the City boss said yesterday: “This is cup final week. All my energy and focus is on this game. Nothing will sidetrack me and this squad. There has been talk about lots and lots of players going back a long, long time. Conor McCormack was going somewhere else a few weeks ago as well. (The club announced he has signed a new contract). So I’m very focused on this week.
“Do I expect changes? Of course there will be, we lost (Sean) Maguire and (Kevin) O’Connor two months ago, and they need to be replaced. So there is going to be an overhaul and a bit changing. But I still believe the majority of our players will stay.
“Everyone is totally focused and tuned in because this is a massive game at the weekend. They know they can create history for themselves. There will be lots of talk next week and the week after about players coming in and players going out. There is plenty of time for that.”
Looking further ahead, Caulfield said that because the pool of top quality footballers in Ireland is relatively small, he expects to see more foreign players coming to the League of Ireland.
”I’m sure other managers have been active in that market and the wages of a lot of these guys are higher than where we’re at but I think next year and over the next couple of years we will have an influx of foreign players,” he said.
“You can see that we can attract some. Dundalk can. Rovers can. If you can get into a flow, you can get more coming in over the next couple of years.”
In the shorter-term, he believes City’s move to a 52-week payment for their players will be crucial to the club’s ability to retain and attract talent.
“The fact we’ve got the 52 weeks will mean now when you’re talking to a player, you’re talking about a salary, not a weekly wage,” he said. “And that’s the language that needs to be spoken.”
Asked if any Cork players would keep up part-time jobs, he replied: “Not while I’m there because I think that while people see the industry in Europe and England being a real industry, there’s an opinion over here that we’re not really full time and, we as a league, haven’t helped ourselves on that.
“While I’m here, I want the guys and the club to commit to 52 weeks, to salaries. It’s not that we’ve upped our wage bill massively; we’ve structured it differently so if a player goes in for a loan or a mortgage he can say ‘well, listen, I’ve a two-year contract’. Whereas at the moment nobody will even talk to them.”
Returning to City’s most immediate challenge, Caulfield said that while there are a few knocks which he needs to consider, “the players have all put their hands up and said they are fine”.