Waterford fans will have to wait a few weeks for the return of hometown hero Daryl Murphy but new boss John Sheridan should have Kurtis Byrne leading his forward line at Tolka Park on Saturday.
League of Ireland clubs resume their campaign this weekend following four-and-half-months of inaction due to Covid-19, with the upheaval particularly affecting the Blues.
Owner Lee Power, having laid off his staff and players in May, saw boss Alan Reynolds quit to become Vinny Perth’s assistant at champions Dundalk.
Reading pair Akin Odimayo and Andre Burley returned to parent club Reading, while Kevin O’Connor and Graham Cummins left for Cork City. Midfielder Scott Allardice stayed in his native Scotland to seek a new club.
Against that grim backdrop, encouragement gradually emerged when Michael O’Connor joined from Linfield and another striker, ex-Ireland forward Daryl Murphy, agreed in principle to a homecoming.
The arrival of former Ireland World Cup midfielder Sheridan into the managerial vacancy three weeks ago continued the positivity but O’Connor and Murphy have both suffered injuries.
It leaves the new boss badly in need of recruits for the visit to Shelbourne this weekend.
I knew from the time I came that we’d need about four or five players to strengthen us. It’s very difficult getting players in because of the rules around quarantine but I’m confident of having three in before we face Shelbourne.
Former Dundalk, Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic striker Byrne is expected to arrive this week from Welsh outfit New Saints, along with Cobh Ramblers defender Charlie Lyons. A couple of Scottish-based targets are also close to agreeing deals. It is the availability of Murphy, however, which could prove crucial in the weeks ahead.
Sheridan admitted: “Daryl is the type of experienced player we need because other players will look up to him if and when he comes. He’s been struggling with a recurring calf injury which needs to be handled carefully. As he’s not training, and won’t be figuring in the first few games, I have to be looking at others who are available and ready.
“Our aim is to stay in the league but I want us to push up towards the top of the table.
“I’m not stupid or naïve enough to realise that we’ve got to strengthen for that to happen.”