Dundalk face a daunting start to their league campaign travelling to Tallaght Stadium to take on league champions Shamrock Rovers this evening (kick-off 7.35pm).
Manager Ian Foster has added real quality to the Dundalk squad and will be looking to beat Rovers, as they did three times last season.
Colin Hawkins, Jason Byrne and Mark Quigley, Greg Bolger, Keith Ward, Michael Hector and Shane Guthrie could all make their league debuts for the Lilywhites.
Foster said: “We could not ask for a more difficult challenge, but it is a great start for us away to the league champions.
“Shamrock Rovers have put together a first-rate squad with quality all over the pitch.
“Our record against them last season was fabulous, and while that won’t count for anything on Friday night, our mentality is to go and try to win the game.”
Rovers have brought 10 new players into their squad as they get the title defence underway.
Hoops boss Michael O’Neill has just one injury concern, as Craig Sives is struggling with a hamstring strain so new signing Ken Oman is set to partner Dan Murray at the heart of the defence.
Fellow new signings Ciaran Kilduff and Stephen O’Donnell are also unavailable as both players are serving suspensions.
O’Neill said: “We have had a very good pre-season overall, and I’m happy with how the squad is progressing.
“We also come into this first game with just one injury, so we’re in very good shape. That’s a big difference from last year, when injuries and suspensions were a huge problem for us in the first few games.
“We’re expecting a very tough game from Dundalk. I saw them against Linfield in the Setanta Cup, where they got two great results. There was no doubt that they deserved to get through to the next round. They have signed some very good players, and I expect them to start the season very well, just like they did last year.”