Ports’ date in Dublin to kick off friendly tests

Pat McGibbon. Pic by Pacemaker.
Pat McGibbon. Pic by Pacemaker.

Pat McGibbon’s revamped Portadown squad will step out against opposition for the first time this summer with a trip tomorrow (Saturday) to take on Swords Celtic.

The weekend date in Dublin offers McGibbon an initial opportunity to put into match practice the fitness progress developed across the past few weeks of pre-season training.

Domestic friendly games will follow the Republic of Ireland visit away to Loughgall and Dergview next Tuesday before the supporters’ first home glimpse in next weekend’s Open Day.

Transfer restrictions imposed by the Irish Football Association preventing the club from signing players on professional terms until June 2017 have had an impact on summer plans - with a 12-point reduction also in place for the forthcoming Danske Bank Premiership.

However, despite the disruptions, McGibbon remains confident his close-season work will yield long-term returns.

“With everything that has gone on it is important we start the new season with a fresh start for everyone,” said McGibbon. “That starts with pre-season, of course, when you have so many fresh faces coming into the club mixing with those still here from last season.

“The Dublin game and other friendly dates will not only be important in terms of building up match practice but also helping everyone bond.

“Of course, fans will also have a chance soon to get a first look at the changed squad and the goal is to move forward together.

“Players may not be well-known to supporters or have arrived at the club from outside the Irish League’s senior level but the one thing connecting every signing is my faith in what they can bring to the club.

“Cohesion will develop over time but the fans can expect a side working hard from first whistle to last and to approach every game with a genuine will-to-win.”

McGibbon is also close to increasing his signings.

“We hope to soon wrap up some other deals,” said McGibbon. “We have players training from the Republic of Ireland thanks to Vinny Arkins’ connections, along with other targets in mind.”