Arkins making plans for Ports to strengthen in January window

Stephen Hughes celebrates finding the net on Saturday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Stephen Hughes celebrates finding the net on Saturday. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
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The clock may be counting down on Vinny Arkins’ timescale as Portadown manager - but that has not stopped the interim boss from putting plans in place for long-term progress.

Arkins was promoted from the role of assistant manager in the aftermath of Pat McGibbon’s resignation on October 14. He secured a victory last weekend against Ballinamallard United in his first official match as temporary boss.

However, regulations prevent Arkins from taking up the role on a permanent basis due to the absence of his UEFA ‘A’ Licence coaching qualification.

The club must make a full-time appointment within the top-flight regulations by the end of a 60-day window following McGibbon’s departure.

In spite of the limitations, Arkins is dedicated to moving forward with his original plan of using contacts in his native Republic of Ireland to aid squad growth.

“I have been talking to people for some time now and that will move on due to the end of the League of Ireland season,” said Arkins, a former Ports captain as a player and the club’s all-time leading goalscorer. “I am looking at players and talking to contacts as it is important to freshen up the squad.

“We now sit on a points tally of minus three so to get that back to zero at least by the January transfer window would really give the club a massive boost.

“I know from talking to Pat that he had targets turn down a move to Portadown in the summer due to the 12-point deduction the club faced from the Irish Football Association.

“It can put players off so the sooner we wipe that out the better for everyone.

“Every point is a forward step and when you look at how we have claimed nine points so far, it says something I think about the quality that we have had three wins.

“There are still plenty of points available this season and players must remember the transfer embargo on signing professional contracts will be lifted come the end of the campaign.

“That potential reward of a pro contract in the summer must be seen as attractive to certain players who come on board.”

The Ports welcome Ards to Shamrock Park tomorrow (Saturday) aiming to build on the 2-1 defeat of Ballinamallard United.

“We are looking at a few players and did not train on Tuesday due to the friendly match with Newry City AFC,” said Arkins. “Garry Breen, for example, is still struggling and may have a late fitness test.

“Overall, we have looked at improving our fitness levels in the past few weeks since the Dungannon Swifts defeat.

“I had a good chat with the players and everyone agreed that match probably exposed our fitness shortages, so that is certainly an area we have been keen to build up.

“The Ballinamallard result on Saturday was massive for the club and we were aggressive at the back and worked so hard together, plus looked dangerous on the counter-attack.”

Kick-off will be 3pm.