MATTHEW Tipton’s decision to start last Saturday against Glentoran has been highlighted by Ronnie McFall as the perfect example of his players’ commitment to the cause.
Tipton suffered a broken collarbone on November 18 against Ballymena United but returned to the starting line-up last weekend ahead of schedule to lead the frontline.
Sean Mackle also made a welcome return to the side and McFall views that determination to get back on the field and help the team as a vital boost.
“After losing out in the previous match to Crusaders it was important we managed to get back on track as quickly as possible,” said McFall. “The team spirit has been excellent this season and everyone is determined to help out.
“However, we would never put any player at long-term risk irrespective of an individual’s desire to get back out.
“Each player’s health is the main consideration but it is certainly encouraging to have so many keen to play.
“I remember my time at Glentoran when Norman Whiteside used to train with us.
“Bob Bishop, Manchester United’s chief scout in Northern Ireland, told me he always had every faith that Norman would make it in the game as he always wanted to play.
“Matthew came to me last week and made himself available for the Glentoran match.
“He had clocked up plenty of miles on a jog and been working hard on the exercise bike so felt strong.
“He trusts his body and, as manager, you need to trust your players.
“Obviously I make the final call along the lines of medical advice but we also back the judgement of our players.”
Mackle and Tipton both helped overcome the unavailability of experienced players such as Tim Mouncey, Wesley Boyle and Richard Lecky to steer the Ports to victory.
“Sean offers real versatility and helps increase our selection options,” said McFall. “Matthew’s presence in the side left Glentoran with something extra to consider at the back, plus he forms a really strong partnership with Kevin Braniff.
“Matthew hit the post and crossbar then set up Kevin’s goal and the minutes on the pitch can only help his match fitness.
“Both players have reacted in a positive way to Saturday so we will review the squad before games against Donegal Celtic and Carrick Rangers.
“We have Celtic at home on Friday before a trip to Seaview next Tuesday to face Carrick Rangers.
“We will prepare for the Celtic match then, after that game, look towards the next fixture.”
Kick-off both tonight (Friday) at Shamrock Park and away on Tuesday will be 7.45.
WEDNESDAY’S Irish Cup fifth-round draw has handed Portadown a second trip to Mourneview Park inside a matter of weeks.
The Ports will make the short journey to Lurgan for the traditional Boxing Day derby in the Carling Premiership. However, cup progress will be the prize on Saturday, January 14.
In the same draw, Loughgall were handed a journey to take on Coagh United - with Ards, managed by Portadown-born Niall Currie, set for a showdown at Solitude against Cliftonville.