PORTADOWN manager Ronnie McFall is confident his players can avoid the European hangover suffered in previous seasons as a result of summer success.
Last season the Ports finished second in the Irish League and a strong start to the forthcoming campaign will be crucial to build on that impressive form.
However, domestic blues have traditionally followed Portadown’s continental progress but McFall feels the gameplan is in place to avoid similar setbacks this season.
“In the past I think the intensity of preparing and playing in Europe puts the players in a certain mindset which they then struggle to change from for the Irish League,” said the Ports boss. “In Europe you tend to go up against technical players and putting so much focus in a short space of time on that kind of approach seems to come at a price.
“Then when it comes to domestic football it is often more about the blood-and-thunder approach and we have been caught out in the past.
“However, we have a squad of intelligent players hungry to develop.
“Our Europa League progress this season was great for the club from a financial viewpoint and in terms of raising our profile.
“It provides a different kind of challenge to the players and even in defeat you should always look to learn from the performance.
“We had a friendly arranged this week against Mickey Collins’ Malachians then stage our final pre-season match on Saturday at home to Newry City.
“This week has been about working really hard on the fitness side of our build-up, with excellent commitment across four or five nights.
“The plan is to then ease off next week ahead of the Lisburn Distillery league game.
“Everyone is working hard, although players like Tim Mouncey, Matthew Paget and Jamie Tomelty have been restricted to light jogging due to injury.
“Chris Ramsey is a doubt for the start of the season having ruptured his hamstring so we need to hold off and see how he recovers.”
The Ports boss is still aiming to bolster his panel for the season ahead and admits the current budget allows for further strengthening. One confirmed addition to the club roster is Chris Beattie as reserve-team boss.
“We have some room left in the budget, not much but some,” said McFall. “Chris, who was previously with Glenavon, holds the UEFA A Licence which is a requirement.
“Last season’s reserve boss, Keith Wilkinson, has been offered a role as chief scout.”
Kick-off will be 3 o’clock.