Newry City manager Gerry Flynn last night denied that the border outfit have become a selling club.
And that’s despite seeing two of his most talented players leave just as the transfer window was about to shut.
Sean Friars departed for hometown club Institute, while Michael Collins left the Irish FA Premiership behind to sign a two-year contract with League of Ireland Premier Division newcomers Dundalk.
Had they left Newry at the end of December rather than January it wouldn’t have come as that much of a shock as financial difficulties forced Flynn (right) to make every member of his first-team available for transfer on Christmas Eve.
The introduction of a new chairman eased the pressure to sell players, but Flynn will still have to fight a relegation battle and try to win the Co-operative Insurance Cup final against Portadown at the end of the month without two players who would almost certainly get into any team in the Premiership.
“We got an offer for Michael Collins that was a good offer for the club. It allowed us to bring a bit of money into the club and reduce the wage bill at the same time,” said Flynn.
“Every club is having to cut its cloth. Michael is a good player, a quality player who I didn’t want to have to lose, but the overall deal made sense for the club and he has been able to go and sign a two-year full-time contract with Dundalk which is good for him as well.
“Sean Friars on his day is one of the best players in the league. If I could mould his ability and his brother Emmet’s attitude and application I’d have an English Premier League player on my hands.
“Emmet will be the best centre-half in the league in the next few years, but Sean hasn’t maintained the form that he showed when he first came to the club.
“We are well covered on the left and up-front, where he would have liked to have played, so again it made sense to let him go.
“We were able to bring in players, such as Darren Cassidy and Paul Keenan, so although I have lost two players I have brought two others in who I feel will benefit us.”
Newry are just two points better off than bottom placed Glenavon in the fight to avoid a relegation play-off with the runners-up of the IFA Championship — the winners of which will automatically replace Bangor in the top flight.
With a game in hand over the Lurgan Blues it is advantage Newry in that battle, but with Glentoran in opposition today, he knows that points are still going to be precious.
“We are in a dogfight, there is no getting away from that, but I have a squad of 18 or 19 players that I believe is capable of getting us out of it and also taking us on an Irish Cup run as well as winning the Co-operative Insurance Cup,” said Flynn.